Senate Wants More Disclosures And Website For Grant Recipients
The Senate wants more disclosures and a navigable website to monitor documents that recipients and sub-recipients have with grant money.
These requirements would target entities like Mid-Central Educational Co-op, which mishandled federal Gear-Up grant dollars.
However, there was some dispute over the length of time those documents should be retained.
State Senator Deb Peters is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 100. She’s also chair of the Government Operations and Audit Committee, that’s taking a close look at what’s known as the Gear Up scandal.
Any audits of those groups would be made public on a website. These groups must also disclose any conflicts of interest within the organization, which Mid-Central did not.
Senator Peters says lawmakers can’t know what’s missing in state statute until someone takes advantage of the law.
“You find laws on the books that haven’t been addressed since 1939 and you make changes. That’s what we did. You find holes in the system that we thought were closed,” Peters says. “That’s not apparently what apparently happened and people took advantage of the system. They acted unethically and we had to close the loopholes.”
The bill passed by state senators would make audits of groups like Mid-Central and other entities that receive grant monies hold on to their records for seven years.
State Senator Billie Sutton wants these groups to hold on to those records for longer… a whole decade.
“Records had disappeared and been destroyed because they weren’t required to have been kept over five years. Seven years would not have encompassed a far enough time to capture that,” Sutton says. That being said, you know what, I don’t know. Seven years is at least a better step than the five years. I think in that instance we would have needed ten to get closer to needing all the information we would have needed.”
Another senator says 10 years would at least cover a full two term governor’s administration. That idea was shot down. Senator Peters says seven years is the accounting standard.