Gov. Dave Heineman says he hopes the federal government will not pull money targeted to fight crime in Nebraska, because the Nebraska Crime Commission has failed to adequately document how the money is being spent.
The U.S. Justice Department has warned the state that the Crime Commission must account for how it spent five million dollars in federal funds if it expects to receive more money from Washington.
Heineman says if you accept money from Washington, you better be able to account for it.
“The challenge with federal grants all the time is the strings that are attached and then the paperwork,” Heineman tells reporters. “And everybody needs to appreciate, if you are going to take a grant from the federal government, you better be able to produce the receipts or the paperwork to show how you spent it. So, I mean, that’s just part of the process and they’re going to need to go back and get all that documentation.”
Millions of federal dollars targeted for local crime fighting efforts in Nebraska are on hold, until the Justice Department is satisfied the money is being spent as intended.
A state audit disclosed the accounting problem.
Commission Executive Director Darrell Fischer, who inherited the problem, says the staff is working hard to fix the problems. He says federal officials are warning they could demand repayment of previous funds if the problems are not corrected.
Heineman says federal requirements can be daunting.
“I wish there was a way that we could find a way, maybe under a certain dollar limit you don’t have to always provide a thousand sheets of paper to prove you spent $10 here. There’s got to be a better trust and relationship there,” Heineman says. “On the other hand, I don’t have any problem. Every layer of government we should document how that money was spent.”