- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2003

The D.C. government and several private institutions lost $3.8 million in federal education grants, but the District’s public school system was responsible for only $512 of that, a U.S. Department of Education report said.

The money reverted back to the federal government Oct. 1 after city officials and private grant officers neglected to obtain the funds by midnight Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2003, said Education Department spokesman Daniel Langan.

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An Education Department report released Friday to The Washington Times showed that the D.C. government lost $3.06 million, three city universities lost $616,578 and six private organizations lost $129,126 in 26 federal grants.

The Education Department’s “FY 2003 Appropriation Monitoring Report” shows that the District’s job training program for disabled adults lost $2.58 million from the department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. The D.C. Department of Human Services was to receive the funds, city officials said.

“Anything dealing with the employment and the disabled goes through Human Services,” said Diana Johnson, spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Employment Services.

The money was awarded to the city in two grants — $2.56 million for vocational rehabilitation and $21,075 for a client-assistance program for the disabled.

The city’s Department of Human Services has no record of the grant, said Natalie Wilson, assistant chief of staff in the Office of the D.C. Chief Financial Officer.

D.C. officials said the city might not have met the requirements to receive the funds or the grant might have been inadequate for the city’s needs.

The District also lost a $442,178 grant from the federal Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program for combating drug abuse and trafficking among youths. The Metropolitan Police Department was to receive that grant.

Police officials said they were unable to give an informed response because many of their financial records on federal grants had been turned over to the federal government — a routine procedure that occurs at the end of every fiscal year.

The District lost about $37,000 in other grants, including a $512 award to the public school system for capital expenses.

“The $512 is all we lost, and that was for a program. It was for trailers for nonpublic schools — we no longer had any use for [them],” said an official with D.C. public schools.

The Times reported last week that, as of mid-September, the D.C. public school system had not drawn $3.8 million in formula and discretionary federal grants, according to Education Department records. The bulk of the funds actually were awarded to the city government and not solely to the school system.

“The 3.8 million you reported was accurate,” Mr. Langan told The Times. “You were correct that on September 22 the District had $3.8 million in formula and discretionary funds that were available.”

Last week, Robert Rice, chief of academic affairs for the D.C. public school system, told The Times that it was possible — although he wasn’t sure — that city schools would lose the $3.8 million in federal grants.

The “FY 2003 Appropriation Monitoring Report” showed that George Washington University, Howard University and Gallaudet University lost more than $600,000 in various research and development grants.

However, George Washington University lost most of those funds in five grants totaling $332,900, including $104,206 to train new special education teachers and two job-creation grants totaling $113,010 for long-term training of people involved in vocational rehabilitation.

“While investigating, I discovered three of the five grants were completed — including a grant for $37,000 — and the money was spent,” said Bob Ludwig, acting director for media relations at George Washington.

Mr. Ludwig said the paperwork to confirm the spending of a $100,000 grant for long-term vocational rehabilitation training and a $13,010 grant for job development was en route to the Education Department.

He said the two grants were in no way related to the two similar grants the District government lost.

Six private groups — the National Academy of Sciences, the Academy for Educational Development, the American Institute for the Research of Behavioral Sciences, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the Greater Washington Urban League and the University Legal Services — lost $129,126 in federal education grants.

The “FY 2003 Appropriation Monitoring Report” was produced by the Grants Administration and Payment System (GAPS), which is maintained by the Education Department’s chief financial officer.

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