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Accountabilityby Fern Shen2:24 pmJan 24, 20230

State of Maryland settles with feds after alleged misuse of AmeriCorps funds

Violations by the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism included improperly filled out timesheets and Orioles and State Fair tickets they gave to ineligible individuals or took for themselves

Above: The M&T Bank Honor Rows Program, one of the intended recipients of AmeriCorps funds to reward deserving youth groups. (gosv.maryland.gov)

The State of Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism (GOSV), a division within the Governor’s Office on Community Initiatives (GOCI), has agreed to pay the federal government $639,916 to resolve a civil False Claims Act investigation relating to the operation of its AmeriCorps program.

The two state entities are charged with administering funds to help AmeriCorps carry out its mission to engage citizens in service and volunteer efforts.

But according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, which announced the settlement today, GOSV and GOCI “engaged in widespread violations of the AmeriCorps grant requirements,

The alleged violations include:

• handing out Orioles and Maryland State Fair tickets intended for volunteers to individuals who were not eligible under the grant, including GOSV employees themselves.

• charging salaries of GOSV and GOCI employees, including the director of GOSV, to the AmeriCorps grant without timesheets or time records to reflect the fact these individuals worked on the AmeriCorps grant.

• overcharging AmeriCorps on certain Federal Financial Reports that were submitted to AmeriCorps to demonstrate how GOSV expended the grant funds.

In addition to agreeing to the monetary settlement, GOSV and GOCI entered into a three-year compliance agreement with AmeriCorps that will govern and monitor the AmeriCorps GOSV awards to ensure compliance with grant procedures.

Broken Trust

In 2016, AmeriCorps awarded GOSV a grant to “promote and recognize volunteer activities throughout the state” with events including:

The Governor’s Service Awards, the Governor’s Volunteer Appreciation Day at the Maryland State Fair and the Honor Rows Program to reward deserving youth groups with the opportunity to attend a Baltimore Ravens games for free.

“AmeriCorps depends on state service commissions to be partners in stewardship of national service funds,” said Deborah Jeffrey, AmeriCorps’ Inspector General, in the statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“The Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism failed in that trust by overstating its expenses and other irregularities that deprived at-risk communities of benefits intended for them.”

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