A federal Interior Department audit of the Justice Department's Division of Paternity and Child Support uncovered, among other things, $8.3 million in contracts that were not put out for proper bid.
Interior's inspector general said the person responsible for supervising procurement said the division was comfortable with certain contractors and awarded subsequent contracts to those contractors.
Although the interim director of the program, Cisselon S. Nichols, said she did not concur with the findings, her memo did not say why or offer any explanation for the audit's findings.
The audit also found major flaws in the payroll process. It said the payroll section of the Justice Department regularly sent unsupported payroll documents to the Finance Department.
The audit said personnel in Justice stated that because of deadlines, the payroll was processed as though employees had routinely worked an 80-hour pay period, even when those employees had not submitted time sheets.
The report said the personnel justified the action by saying they said they would make adjustments on the next payroll. But they didn't. The audit said the adjustments weren't made if the employees didn't submit an adjusted time sheet. And Justice personnel didn't seek the adjusted time sheets from employees.
"We concluded that there was little assurance that employees of the Division of Paternity and Child Support worked the number of hours for which they were paid or were charged for the number of hours of leave used," the audit states.
In fact, auditors found evidence that old payroll registers were used to prepare current monthly payrolls summaries "because the current payroll registers were not available."
The audit also revealed the division spent $78,884 for office space that was never used and that it could be liable for $147,108 more to pay off the lease. They also spent $87,468 for construction work on the unused space.
Division officials said they believed they would eventually need additional office space. Nichols, in her response to the audit findings, said, "We must access our office space due to the addition of 20 new employees."
Nichols was not available for further comment Wednesday afternoon.


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