Audit investigates questionable BRAVE contracts from City-Parish
BATON ROUGE - The State Legislative Auditor has released its findings in the investigation of the East Baton Rouge Parish government and contracts formed with a now-defunct violence prevention program.
Funding for the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination (BRAVE) program was pulled in September 2017. BRAVE has been extensively covered in a series of Investigative Unit reports.
The audit states that the City-Parish contracted with local vendors in connection with BRAVE. Two of those contracts lacked detail to determine whether the amount paid for the services was justified. As a result of that discrepancy, the City-Parish may not have received the adequate value for BRAVE funds, which may violate the state law.
A former Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for the City-Parish says most of the contracts looked to provide youth with alternatives to committing violent crimes. These alternatives included creative writing and arts programs as well as leadership and business opportunities.
Two of the greatest concerns outlined in the audit are contracts for transportation and counseling. In July 2017, Runner's Courier Service (RCS) was contracted to transport BRAVE program clients to events, meetings and court proceedings. Of the three events RCS was used for, the audit says one of them wasn't a BRAVE sponsored function. RCS was paid $11,700 for the services, but a former City-Parish official says he doesn't recall any services warranting that amount. The City-Parish terminated their contract with RCS in September 2017.
The City-Parish also entered into a $17,000 contract with New Hope Outreach Ministries (NHOM) for counseling BRAVE clients. Invoices were sent from NHOM to the City-Parish but failed to specify what services were performed.
The audit recommends the City-Parish implement more written policies and procedures including a review of invoices and review of contracts between vendors and officials.
Read the entire audit by clicking here.