DSS wants its $314K back now; demand on Wednesday NEON agenda

NORWALK, Conn. – The Connecticut Department of Social Services says Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) owes the government $314,605, and it wants the money now.

The debt stems from an audit report released in April in which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) said the Norwalk social service agency misspent or failed to account for $314,605 in federal grant money claimed for NEON by DSS. The report said the money must be paid back.

A letter to NEON from DSS dated July 12 sets a July 26 deadline for return of the money. The letter, obtained from DSS after NEON did not respond to an email request for a copy, stated that, if NEON could not pay the balance by July 26, it should propose a payment plan by July 17.

Discussion about the letter is on the NEON agenda for its meeting at 7 tonight, July 24, at the NEON office, 98 S. Main St.

Also on the agenda is an executive session item noted as “Potential Litigation (DSS/OIG).”

The letter broke down the $314,605 in “unallowable costs” into five categories:

• $144,319 for costs with inadequate documentation or that were not reasonable for the performance of the program

• $93,415 in indirect expenses charged to the grants based on an unallowable methodology

• $57,040 in operating costs that were not reasonable and renovation costs without a federal waiver that did not meet program objectives

• $14,327 in prohibited lobbying, fundraising and donations

• $5,504 in missing equipment.

The letter said the audit report also recommended that DSS:

• Return to the federal government unallowable costs totaling $314,605 that it claimed on behalf of NEON

• Ensure that NEON establishes and implements policies, procedures and related internal controls to comply with all federal grant requirements, ensure that it charges only allowable costs to the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program and ensure that it follows generally accepted, sound business practices.

To read the entire letter and rules governing the CSBG program, click the link: DSS to NEON CEO 7 12 13


6 responses to “DSS wants its $314K back now; demand on Wednesday NEON agenda”

  1. Lifelong Teacher

    NEON should be disbanded. Turn Head Start over to other providers, sweep the place clean.

    The report from DSS was damning and shameful.

  2. Debora

    Can we get them to look over the books at Oak Hills?

  3. Ace22

    @Lifelong Teacher, I agree with your frustrations. However, there are many families who need their services. Furthermore, I heard many of the workers are good; they’re just extremely overworked without any guidance. If it were me making an executive decision, I would RIP OUT ALL OF THE LEADERSHIP, and fill it with management who is knowledgeable and preferably out of town!

  4. Lifelong Teacher

    Ace: You are right that families need the services. But I will tell you that, after working for decades in our elementary schools, NEON is not doing a good job. These vulnerable children are not ready for kindergarten and this is shameful. They have poor oral language (and I am talking about English-speaking children born here who can’t speak) and pre reading skills are not in place. There is a huge gap when they enter school and we don’t have the resources to address it so it grows exponentially. Whether the workers are good or not, I cannot say. I can say that the children and families are being shortchanged. Ask any kindergarten teacher or elementary administrator. This has been the case for at least twenty years.

    All the while, NEON leadership has been paid huge salaries, a tremendous amount of money is missing, and now they are trying to hire someone as director who doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree. To be arguing about whether or not this woman has an associate’s degree is ridiculous.

  5. Ace22

    @LifeLT…Point well taken! You won’t get a rebuttal from me! :o)

  6. Bill

    How can this organization choose someone from within Norwalk to be their CEO, show you aren’t corrupt by doing a search outside of Norwalk and find someone who is qualified, not someone who lies about their resume.

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