Big Brothers in big trouble with federal officials

No more federal funding will flow to Philadelphia-based Big Brothers Big Sisters of America — until questions over a $19 million expenditure are resolved. 

The audit report from the U.S. Justice Department’s inspector general says that Big Brothers Big Sisters cannot account for more than $19 million that was intended for mentoring at-risk youth.

The mentoring took place, according to Dan Hill, a spokesman for the organization, but there were problems with the paperwork.

“During a three-year period, Big Brothers actually matched 17,000 kids during this 2009 to 2011 period which exceeded the goals by 22 percent,” Hill said. “What happened, and what’s reflected in the report, is that the organization did not follow the grant guidelines for how they track that.”

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The audit found no criminal wrongdoing and did not identify specific waste on a large scale

Any nonprofit can have problems dealing with grant reporting requirements, especially when they cover millions of dollars, said Richard Dilworth of Drexel University’s Center for Public Policy.

“So there can be, to some extent I think speaking generally, not specifically to this case, but I think there can frequently be … some level of miscommunication. just an issue in terms of implementation,” Dilworth said.

The nonprofit will work with other funding sources to continue to provide some services while they work to clear up the federal issues.


Hill said a management shakeup at Big Brothers has addressed some of the issues.

“New controls are in place and national training has taken place so the organization is not taking this lightly,” Hill said. “They want to be sure they are full compliance and get right back to the work servicing these grants.”


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