The Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF, by its initials in Spanish) put the Council on Developmental Disabilities (CDD), an entity attached to the Puerto Rico Planning Board under receivership.
This action is intended correct certain serious deficiencies identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which jeopardize approximately $2.5 million in federal grants intended for the creation of programs that benefit Puerto Rico’s population with developmental disabilities, AAFAF officials said.
The CDD was placed in the Tier 3 High Risk category on Jan. 17, 2013. Since then, the federal government has requested corrective action plans and provided technical assistance; however, the CDD has not properly addressed the findings. The receivership will become effective immediately and will remain in effect until Sobrino certifies that the noncompliance and deficiencies have been corrected.
On Feb. 4, 2019, the CDD received a final warning that the federal grant allocation could be terminated. The noncompliance is grounded mainly on improper fiscal and program management. The findings include, among others, improper management and expenditure of federal funds, and administrative expenses in excess of those authorized by the federal rules.
The PRPB also issued similar findings after it conducted an audit of the fiscal operations of the CDD, AAFAF Executive Director Christian Sobrino said. The audit revealed multiple irregularities, such as the creation of projects beyond the period established by the federal government, lack of activities to make public the availability of funds, and delay in the proposal approval processes.
“This background of noncompliance with fiscal and program requirements has limited the creation of projects for the benefit of people with developmental disabilities and their families,” he said.
“AAFAF will immediately address the federal government’s finding. We will submit a corrective action plan to correct the deficiencies and fulfill the promise of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s administration to restore the services our people deserve,” Sobrino said.
“We will not allow the loss of federal funds due to poor management of the administrative structure of this Council. We are going to fix this once and for all,” Sobrino said.
The CDD is the second entity placed on receivership by AAFAF. On Mar. 26, 2019, AAFAF was forced to place the administrative component of the Persons with Disability Advocacy Office (PDAO) in receivership due to similar deficiencies pointed out by the HHS.
Since AAFAF’s intervention, “direct and effective communications” have been established with the federal government, and a corrective action plan addressing the findings has been successfully approved. This way, AAFAF avoided a process that would have terminated federal funding for the PDAO, guaranteeing the benefits and continuity of services to people with disabilities.