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May 19, 2010

Auditors Accuse Philadelphia of Wasting AIDS Funds

A report by the Pennsylvania state auditor accuses the Philadelphia Health Department of wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars allotted to HIV/AIDS services, according to Philadelphia Gay News.

The audit alleges the health department spent more than $700,000 in waste, inappropriate spending and possible fraud in fiscal year 2008. As examples, the report cited $13,000 for T-shirts, duplicate invoices totaling $223,000 and lack of documentation for $64,000.

Pennsylvania State contracts 60 organizations for HIV work, but nearly half of the state’s HIV funds goes to the Philadelphia Health Department. The state audit examined 11 of the 60 contracts and only found problems with the health department.

Nan Feyler, the health department’s chief of staff, said the bookkeeping was off because of a change in personnel. “We weren’t operating a tight ship, so to speak,” she said, stressing that there was no fraud and no overpayment.

The audit criticized the department for paying people to participate in programs. And it suggested the health department could save money by better using the Internet to promote HIV prevention instead of investing in on-the-ground programs like Philadelphia FIGHT.

Jane Shull, FIGHT’s executive director, countered: “African Americans, Hispanics and those making under $50,000 a year…have Internet access at a rate of under 50 percent,” she told Philadelphia Gay News. “The population we’re trying to reach…will not be reached if we don’t have face-to-face methods.”

Search: Pennsylvania, health, funds, African Americans, Hispanics

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