ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal audit of grant spending has raised questions about more than $573,000 in costs and transfers made by a northern New Mexico tribal organization that had been awarded several grants by the Office on Violence Against Women.
The report released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General states that the Eight Northern Indian Pueblo Council had no process in place to effectively prevent some of the funding from being used for unapproved expenses.
The nonprofit council was awarded more than $4.1 million through six grants between 2005 and 2010. The payroll costs that were not allowed under the grants totaled more than $347,000, while training and travel costs added up to more than $83,000, according to the audit.
The council, in its response, said the payroll costs stemmed from differences between employee positions listed in its system and the positions defined in the grant proposals and budgets. It also disputed the audit’s other findings.
Rob Corabi, the organization’s executive director, said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he inherited the processing system from a previous administration and has been making changes to ensure that grant funds are spent properly and that expenses are approved in advance.
“Everything has been resolved,” he said, adding that separate audits submitted to the federal government for the past three years have been clean.
Corabi also noted that the Inspector General’s audit did not find any problems with the council’s performance or accomplishments under the grants’ requirements.
The council serves the pueblos of Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Clara, Taos and Tesuque. Its PeaceKeepers Domestic Violence Program provides support groups, legal counsel and other services to members of the pueblos.
The grants were awarded to help with housing and legal aid as well as the development of plans for tribal law enforcement and courts to respond to violence against Native American women.