More than $1 million in expenses related to a federal charity drive have been questioned by the Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general.

An audit covering 2007 through 2010 of the Combined Federal Campaigns of the National Capital Area “identified seven instances of non-compliance with regulations...and questions $308,820 in expenses charged to the campaign.

“In addition,” the audit continued, “we identified $764,069 in expenses that could have been put to better use for the campaigns.”

The CFC is “the world’s largest and most successful workplace charity fundraiser,” said OPM Director John Berry. “We are committed to taking all steps necessary to ensure that charities receive the maximum amount possible from this historic program.”

He ordered several actions that he said would “ensure that charities receive the maximum amount possible from this historic program.”

Global Impact, the non-profit that manages the charity, has agreed to take corrective steps. “Global Impact’s continued relationship with CFC is contingent on completing these actions,” Berry said.

Global Impact President Renee Acosta said the firm has agreed to pay back the $308,820, though it plans to appeal that reimbursement. She said the funds were reimbursed so the case would not interfere with the coming fundraising drive.

Some of that money went to overcharged travel, food and campaign expenses, the audit said.

The money that “could have been put to better use,” according to the audit, was spent on conferences, design and marketing services, software, luncheons and finale events.

“We’ve managed this campaign very strictly according to regulations,” Acosta said, adding that the audit’s findings “are a question of interpretation of the regulations.”

During the years of the audit, Acosta said, the campaign raised $260 million against $15 million in expenses.

Berry said “any failure to abide by OPM regulations regarding the handling of charitable contributions is unacceptable.” In addition to paying back the money, Berry said Global Impact agreed to implement additional internal controls and will certify compliance by April 23.

OPM is also creating “a new task force group led by the watchdog organization Charity Navigator to look at the potentially wasteful expenditures identified by the IG,” he said.

Among other steps, Berry also issued a directive “prohibiting the use of campaign funds for meals or entertainment in any circumstances.”


Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson. Follow the Federal Diary on Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP