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Illinois House orders new audit of anti-violence funds

Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11:28 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers are seeking a new audit of anti-violence spending under Gov. Pat Quinn after a review in February found “pervasive” mismanagement in an earlier program.

The House approved the request on a 101-5 vote last week. It seeks a review by Auditor General William Holland of spending on anti-violence initiatives that followed Quinn’s hastily implemented Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday.

Quinn created the anti-violence program in 2010, just weeks before he won a close election for governor. It was intended to stem violence in two dozen Chicago neighborhoods. But Holland found in an audit released in February – also commissioned by the House – that the $55 million program had “pervasive” mismanagement, with millions of dollars unspent or unaccounted for.

The Democratic governor said he fixed the problems by revamping the anti-violence plan, disbanding its parent agency and putting the initiative under the management of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority in 2013.

Rep. David Reis, a Republican from Willow Hill, wants to know whether the changes worked for anti-violence and after-school programs that have continued.

“I hope I find nothing. But if we do, it just goes to show you that nothing got fixed,” Reis said. “We were assured everything got switched over and was done by the book. This audit will find out whether that was true.”

Reis also asked for a study into state funds given to the Chicago Area Project, a social-service provider that helped implement the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.

Officials with the Criminal Justice Information Authority, which oversees about 20 federal and state grant programs, say they will cooperate with the investigation.

“We have a rigorous and detailed grant review process, plus 30 years of successful grant management (with) no significant audit findings,” spokeswoman Cristin Monti Evans said. “We’ll cooperate fully on these audits as we would any other audit.”

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