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    OC officials say they are still waiting on audit of Viet America Society spending for meals program
    • July 9, 2024

    Orange County officials are expected to meet with Viet America Society representatives today, July 9, on the status of a required audit that is supposed to show how the nonprofit spent $4 million of federal pandemic relief money on providing meals to seniors.

    County CEO Frank Kim, who retires on Thursday, July 11, said he wants the audit completed before he leaves the role.

    Contracts for the hot meals program were directed to Viet America Society by First District Supervisor Andrew Do from his district discretionary funds – each county supervisor district was allocated $10 million from the federal funds the county received. Though not required by state law or county guidelines, Do’s channeling of funds to Viet America Society without publicly disclosing that his daughter, Rhiannon Do, was a leader within the organization raised questions about the county’s policies.

    Since February 2023 county officials have warned the nonprofit that the documents it filed did not contain required information, such as the number of meals delivered and number of residents served. One county warning letter also said the organization was delinquent in providing the audit – called a “single audit” – that is required by the federal government after spending more than $750,000.

    The organization failed to meet deadlines on March 14 and 18 – there were two contracts in question – to provide county officials with requested documentation. County officials said earlier this month that Viet America Society had been expected to complete its single audit on June 30. As of Monday, no reports had been filed by the nonprofit, according to Alexa Pratt, public information officer for OC Community Resources, the agency overseeing the contract.

    Sterling Scott Winchell, lawyer for Viet America Society, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    Pratt said an accounting firm hired by the group told county officials that VAS needs to provide additional documentation in order to complete its single audit.

    “I’ve been meeting with their principals and their CFO, had a meeting recently with their external auditor and (am) trying to ensure that they’re on a reasonable timeline to accurately collect their records, turn them over to the auditor, and get the single audit work complete,” Kim said. “I’ve been pushing them, trying to get it done before I leave because I’d like to tie that off.”

    Kim said he didn’t know of the group when its contracts were first issued, but said he has since learned that its leaders have very little experience working with government.

    Related links

    Supervisors got millions to use at their discretion; Do’s choices draw spotlight on public money
    Nonprofit Viet America Society given deadline to show proof of senior meals funded by county
    Deadline passes for nonprofit Viet America Society to show proof it properly spent county funds
    Viet America Society given more time by county to produce documentation on spending

    “Doing work with government, particularly with federal funds, there’s a lot of administration,” Kim said. “You’ve got to keep your records separate. You have to have a separate accounting set of books. There’s a whole thing that you have to do. I think that they did not have a lot of experience doing that.”

    Administration issues have also led to Warner Wellness, a dba of Viet America Society, being terminated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness Orange County as of June 6, Amy Durham, NAMI CEO, said in an email Monday.

    Durham previously said Warner Wellness failed to provide several administrative items or set up a meeting to discuss its ability to fulfill its contract.

    NAMI operates the mental health WarmLine under a contract with the county and had hired Warner Wellness as a subcontractor in June 2023 to serve Vietnamese-speaking callers.

    “We never received any response from Warner Wellness, we provided them a 30-day notice to terminate the contract on May 7,” Durham said in an email. “We continue to serve the Vietnamese community internally with an extensive Vietnamese bilingual staff.”

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    ​ Orange County Register