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Report criticizes how Minnesota agencies award grants to nonprofits

Report criticizes how state agencies award grants to nonprofits
Report criticizes how state agencies award grants to nonprofits 02:49

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota state auditors have come out swinging in a new report, blasting what it called "pervasive noncompliance" among state agencies when it comes to following policies on giving out grants to nonprofits.

You pay your taxes, the state legislature decides how to spend it, state agencies then get to share it. The Minnesota Office of Grants Management spells out 13 policies for awarding money to public and private partners. They're not supposed to be suggestions.

Jodi Munson Rodriguez is the deputy legislative auditor who helped write this 98-page report

"I'll say it's pretty serious. We don't use the word 'pervasive' lightly," Munson Rodriguez said.

The report's two key conclusions:

1. State agencies – including the departments of education and public safety – missed the boat on important functions like financial reviews, site visits and progress reports, among other protocols.

2. Even if the agencies followed all protocols, the standards aren't high enough to protect taxpayer money.


"There are no standards. There's no kind of specific red-flag indicators, for example, that are written into these policies to say, 'if you see this, don't give them a grant,' or, 'if you see this, make sure you're monitoring more closely,'" Munson Rodriguez said.

The Minnesota Department of Education is under fire for what it did or didn't do for Feeding Our Future. Munson Rodriguez says her office didn't necessarily find a correlation, but agrees that there is work to be done, and lessons to be learned.

"We think that it's time for the state to look at this not just at an agency-by-agency solution, but as a statewide solution," she said.

MDE and DPS officials told auditors they're already committed to making improvements, including better training for staff. Auditors also list several recommendations for lawmakers to increase oversight and accountability.

It's important to make clear that this audit didn't find any fraud, because it wasn't looking for fraud. This was about identifying vulnerabilities and offering solutions. 

There is an active special audit of how state agencies handled the Feeding Our Future scandal, which is due later this year.

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