Audit finds NC returned $120 million in COVID-19 relief funding

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — We’ve heard so much about the need for COVID-19 relief funding for schools, businesses, and the unemployed.

According to a new report, North Carolina received $3.6 billion from the federal government under the relief packages and sent more than $120 million of it back.

The 21-page report by the state auditor’s office looked at how the state managed coronavirus relief funding.

“It’s very shocking. There’s a lot of people out here, there’s a lot of need,” Jermaine Blue said.

Auditors found the biggest chunk — $62 million came from the Extra Credit Grant program and made up 14 percent of the total program. It provides $355 checks to North Carolinians with children. The money went back to the North Carolina Department of Revenue.

“I’m surprised that the state couldn’t find a way to utilize the money and maybe reach out to some families,” Cathy Knudsen said.

In response, that agency said the program was extended until May 31 and that the funding is still available to people.

The report found another $50 million was returned by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. It was supposed to cover increased unemployment benefits, but auditors determined it wasn’t needed.

Rural hospitals and the University of North Carolina system also turned down money.

In response, the North Carolina Budget Director wrote, “OSBM and NCPRO diligently worked to track $3.6 billion to the penny without any overstatements or understatements. Our staff worked collaboratively with thousands of direct CRF recipients, sub-recipients, beneficiaries, vendors, and contractors with varying accounting systems to achieve the goals as set forth by the North Carolina General Assembly. As a result of Governor Cooper’s and the North Carolina General Assembly’s leadership, North Carolina is recovering from this pandemic and OSBM and NCPRO have worked to help achieve this recovery.”

It’s important to note, the state auditor said the report didn’t examine if the money was used in accordance with the requirements set out by the U.S. Treasury Department or if the money accomplished its intended purpose.

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