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California auditor blasts childhood safety contract

Posted: November 28, 2012 3:00 p.m.
Updated: November 28, 2012 3:00 p.m.

SAN DIEGO (AP) — California public health officials illegally paid a foundation about $2 million to oversee a childhood safety program intended to provide grants for safety-seat, poison-control and other education, a state audit concluded.

The Department of Public Health contracted with the San Diego State University Research Foundation to administer the program in recent years, even though state law requires that state workers do the job, according to the report released Tuesday by Elaine Howle, the state auditor.

"The Legislature intended the funds to pay only for costs directly associated with preventing unintentional childhood injury," the audit said.

The foundation was not aware that the Department of Public Health had violated procedures and operated in good faith, spokeswoman Debbie Brighton said in an email to U-T San Diego (

The foundation no longer has the contract.

The Department of Public Health responded to the audit by pledging to make changes to ensure that the law is followed.

The foundation was paid to administer the Kids' Plates Program, using money from the sale of specialized license plates to provide grants to groups offering programs to prevent childhood injuries and deaths.

Even when officials determined they could no longer contract with the foundation, they allowed it to continue its work for 10 months without a contract and the state ultimately had to pay for that work, according to the audit.

However, the foundation couldn't award any grants during the 10 months when it worked without a contract, the audit said.

The state also failed to spend roughly $1 million of $1.4 million that the Legislature appropriated for the Kids' Plates Program in the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the audit said.




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