Dallas-based AIDS service group Renaissance III was told by Dallas County auditors on Wednesday to return $112,867 in federal funds to Washington due to several questionable expenses listed by the agency, including $22,000 in staff bonuses, The Dallas Morning News reports. The expenses didn't meet federal guidelines outlined in the Ryan White CARE Act, the auditors said in determining that the federal funds needed to be returned and in suggesting to federal officials that the agency not receive any future Ryan White funding. "Due to the serious nature of the findings and the significant questioned costs, we do not recommend consideration of future awards to the agency until such time as the agency has fully reimbursed all questioned costs and provided sufficient evidence that management is in place to ensure financial accountability," county auditor Virginia Porter wrote.
Renaissance III founder and executive director Don Sneed, who also currently serves on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, called the expenses a "bookkeeping problem" and said financial records at the agency can prove that the group didn't violate Ryan White regulations.
Renaissance III has been audited by county officials in the past, and in February was ordered by the Texas Department of Health to reimburse the state for $76,958 in state grants to the organization. Previous audits also questioned how contracts were awarded, how grants appeared to be "commingled," and how agency staff were paid. Sneed told county auditors that the $22,255 in bonuses awarded to staff last year were given because the workers had "put in a horrific number of hours."