Where Has All the Refugee Resettlement Money Gone?

By Dan Cadman on June 10, 2015

The Department of Justice's Office of Inspector General (DOJ OIG) released a report this month entitled "Audit of the Office of Justice Programs Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Grant Awarded to Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of San Antonio, Inc., Texas". The grant was for a substantial amount of money, $810,000, of which $730,491 has already been disbursed, and was intended to further the work of the South Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Slavery (STCAHTS).

According to DOJ OIG, "The objective of this audit was to determine whether costs claimed under the grant were allowable, supported, and in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, guidelines, and terms and conditions." That's pretty straightforward and seems like a basic requirement given the amount of taxpayer dollars involved,

The DOJ OIG staff found that Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio (CCAOSA) pretty much failed the audit on all counts:

Specifically, CCAOSA: (1) did not follow procedures for identification and procurement of contractors and there were no procedures for monitoring contractors, (2) had unsupported expenditures and drawdowns of $20,363, (3) submitted inaccurate financial reports, and (4) did not maintain supporting documentation for progress reports.

Perhaps such an examination should have occurred before more than 90 percent of the money had been provided, but that's water under the bridge.

A look on the Internet to find out about STCAHTS wasn't particularly fruitful. Their website is puzzling, drab, and uninformative. It also has superfluous links to such other sites as Al Jazeera, National Public Radio, CNN, and the like.

Researchers at the School of Social Work at the University of Texas, Austin, appear to have evaluated the work of the South Texas Coalition and its mirror-image, the Central Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking and Slavery, more than one time; three times, in fact, although I was unable to actually find the research, which purportedly took place once in 2007 and twice in 2009. See here, here, and here.)

Catholic Charities has also been a major recipient of funds from the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the Department of Health and Human Services for purposes of receiving and resettling the illegal border crossers who surged into South Texas last year (and who are still trekking across to this day). In fact, Catholic Charities offices within dioceses all over the country have benefited from ORR grants and even been designated as official state refugee coordinators for ORR. (See, for instance, here and here.)

For this reason, and with my curiosity aroused, I went to the official website of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to see what I could find out about any audit work that agency had done to ensure their money was well spent. I found a report from August 1994 — that was it.

No amount of cross-checking by subject matter or division (ORR is a part of HHS's Administration for Children and Families) revealed any audit work done by HHS OIG despite the tens of millions of dollars apportioned, and not just to Catholic Charities, but to a number of both secular and religiously affiliated charities. One wonders at this lapse.