The Office of the State Inspector General (OIG) has posted a report summarizing its proactive evaluation of tuition assistance provided by the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency’s (GVRA) rehabilitation program. The report can be accessed.
Under Executive Order 01.13.03.02, after detecting acts of fraud, waste, abuse or corruption, the duties of OIG include reviewing and evaluating state agency policies and procedures to form recommendations to prevent similar conduct. In August 2021, an OIG investigation revealed that the tuition assistance provided by GVRA had been significantly compromised, resulting in an estimated financial loss of over $1.3 million due to fraudulent activity.
This financial loss was largely the result of tuition assistance paid to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) clients not actually enrolled in post-secondary education. By reviewing this aspect of GVRA’s services, OIG sought to determine whether additional fraud occurred within the tuition assistance program, and to identify improvements to strengthen GVRA’s internal controls and management of tuition assistance disbursements.
In summary, OIG examined 1,475 tuition assistance payments made to 705 VR Program clients. Through collaborations with the University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG), OIG reviewed and identified 21 payments made to 15 VR clients that were not enrolled in a college or university program, and one additional payment made to an enrolled VR client who only paid the educational institution a portion of the tuition assistance. These 22 payments resulted in a total loss to GVRA of approximately $200,935. Of these 22 payments, 10 were related to five fraudulent VR clients previously identified by OIG which prompted this evaluation. The remaining 12 payments, associated with 10 VR clients, totaled $25,984. OIG found no indication of internal fraudulent activity associated with the newly identified erroneous payments, and will pursue efforts to recoup these funds from the former VR clients.