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Audit calls for change at Golden LEAF

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Dan Gerlach

Dan Gerlach

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – The Golden LEAF Foundation needs to do a better job monitoring grants and observing open-meetings laws and should review its investment policies, the State Auditor’s Office says.

The performance audit was conducted from July 2008 through April 2009, with the final report issued Nov. 2.

The audit says the Rocky Mount-based foundation, while it does have grant-monitoring practices in place, does not “ensure effective oversight of grant activities.”

In awarding about $326 million in grants to date, the foundation has not performed “key functions” like verifying information submitted by grantees and comprehensively reviewing grantees’ financial condition, the audit says.

In a written response to the audit, Golden LEAF says it will create additional policies for grant monitoring and reporting.

The foundation also noted it made 169 site visits last year to monitor grantees, requires grantees to participate in workshops or consult directly with foundation staff, and sometimes establishes specific requirements grantees must meet before funds are awarded.

The audit says Golden LEAF violated the state’s open-meetings law by awarding a grant for $15 million in a closed meeting and by failing to keep “full and accurate meeting minutes.”

The foundation says it will make all future grants in open meetings and will make its meeting minutes more accurate and readily accessible.

And the audit says about $726 million in foundation assets are not invested according to state rules, a finding it has asked state lawmakers to review.

Golden LEAF noted that, as a grantmaking foundation that awards funds from the interest earned by its investments, its investment goals may be different than those of other state agencies.

Therefore, its guidelines for asset allocation are similar to those used by other grantmaking foundations.

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