Once the Government Operations and Audit Committee gets done grilling anyone from Tri-Valley who dares show up to talk about its possibly illegal laptops-for-enrollment scheme, the committee will turn to its most heavily documented and thus far most time-consuming topic, the GEAR UP/Mid-Central scandal. The newest document posted to the GOAC webpage for today’s meeting is this big PDF labeled gently, “Follow-up Information from DLA.” This document, submitted by state government audit manager Tim Flannery from the Department of Legislative Audit, responds to questions offered by GOAC at its August 29 on four topics. In its GEAR UP responses, the Department of Legislative Audit finds Secretary of Education Melody Schopp and her attorney Paul Bachand got a couple points wrong in their summer statements to GOAC.
DLA observes that, contrary to Schopp/Bachand’s statements, the validity of the use of Microsoft software to fulfill the matching requirements for the GEAR UP grant remains in doubt:
DLA noted no records of use for this software in an audit finding in both SFY14 and SFY15, with report dates of 2/25/15 and 3/21/16, respectively. In Paul Bachand’s response to GOAC dated 8/22/17 he indicates that records for use of this software were destroyed in the fire. Since DOE still had no records on file at the time of the fire (9/16/15), it is apparent DOE did not increase monitoring activities in this area after it was noted in DLA’s 2/25/15 report.
In Paul Bachand’s response to GOAC dated 8/22/17 he indicates DOE provided 2015 summer honors program syllabus to USDOE as evidence that the Microsoft software was used. DLA’s special review dated 5/19/17 indicates that, although Microsoft Programming was a part of the summer program, DLA could not verify that this software was used in the program [Paul Flannery, DLA to GOAC, 2017.10.03].
In August, Secretary Schopp told GOAC she did not become aware of the suspicious dual position of Nicole Westerhuis in the GEAR UP management web until she reviewed DLA’s special Report and Audit of Mid-Central in May 2017. DLA says Schopp must not be checking her e-mail:
This was noted in our audit finding 2015-003 of DLA’s FY2015 Statewide Single Audit which was provided to DOE for their response which was received back on 2/8/16 via email with CC to Dr. Schopp, and finally the finding and response was included in the FY2015 Statewide Single Audit with a report date of 3/21/16 [Flannery/DLA to GOAC, 2017.10.03].
To Schopp’s credit, DLA notes that Schopp’s diagram of monitoring procedures imposed on Mid-Central back in 2012 appear to have no inconsistencies with GEAR UP project director Roger Campbell’s April and August 2012 e-mails on the subject.
DLA also appears to suggest Schopp/Bachand may be underplaying the amount DOE and Mid-Central paid Keith Moore for his consulting on federal grants. Bachand’s September response to a question about Mid-Central’s GEAR UP “advisory board” says Moore was paid $36,000 from August 2012 to May 2013. DLA confirms those numbers but provides a fuller list of $68,000 in GEAR UP stipends and $3,881.11 in travel and “laptop presenter stipends” for GEAR UP and College Access grants from 2008 through September 2015, when the whole Mid-Central scheme collapsed.