[Ed. note: The following editorial was submitted to the Outpost by Connie Beck, Director of Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services.]

Connie Beck, seen here in the virtual world we all now exist inside

There’s been a lot of discussion lately in board chambers and beyond of something called a “Single Audit,” which is past due from the county and will likely not be completed any time soon.

What is a Single Audit and why is it so important?

A Single Audit is a financial report required by non-federal entities such as state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, tribes and higher education institutions that spend more than $750,000 of federal funds in a fiscal year.

It’s intended to provide assurance to the federal government that the entity—in this case the county—has necessary internal controls in place and is generally complying with program requirements. Failure to complete the Single Audit on time can result in the loss of federal funds.

A lot of federal funds. For fiscal year 2019/20, that dollar figure was over $61 million for the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) alone.

Historically, the audit is due to the state in March, but this year the deadline was extended to Sept. 30, 2021, due to COVID-19. 

I’d like to first acknowledge that creating a Single Audit is not an easy thing to do. In an article on the topic, CPA Ciara Leahy stated, “If you feel an audit is like going to the dentist, a Single Audit is like getting a root canal.” And yet in all my years working for DHHS, never before has the county submitted a Single Audit late.


But as of today, the county’s Single Audit is three months late already, because the county’s outside auditor is still waiting for necessary information from the Humboldt County Auditor-Controller’s Office. Once that information is received, the outside auditors tell us it will be at least another three months after that before they can start work on the report.

This is why it matters: Should the federal government decide to pull funding due to the county’s failure to submit the Single Audit, there would be sharp and immediate impacts to nearly 50 grants and funds that support dozens of health and human services programs.

These include eight federal funds totaling more than $16 million that support DHHS’s adoption and foster care programs that provide safe housing for kids experiencing abuse, trauma and neglect.

Six federal grants help pay for housing and housing support for people experiencing homelessness. These people range from children and families to adults with severe mental illness to people living with HIV and AIDS.

Grants like the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund pay for Behavioral Health outpatient programs and Sempervirens and the Crisis Stabilization Unit. 

Other federal funds support Adult Protective Services, Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention programming, California Children’s Services which assists families who have children with specific health conditions get to their appointments and receive the treatments they need, as well as funds that make sure people who qualify for CalFresh can get signed up and have food on their tables.

The acclaimed Nurse-Family Partnership program comes from the federally funded California Home Visiting Program and serves 115 young families each year. This program pairs nurses with income-qualifying first-time mothers who receive home and field visits from their nurse early in their pregnancy through their child’s second birthday. Proven outcomes include increased pregnancy health, prevention of childhood abuse and improved bonding and school readiness.

We also use federal grants to test water at local beaches, make sure hospitals are prepared for emergencies (such as the COVID pandemic) and provide an Immunization Coordinator to make sure local providers have necessary childhood vaccines on hand and available countywide.

In addition to the federal dollars that help fund our direct programs, DHHS contracts with and provides funds to nonprofit partners throughout the county including Food for People, First 5 Humboldt, the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods, Humboldt Domestic Violence Services, the Senior Resource Center, the county Office of Education, Southern Humboldt Community Park and many more.

But when we talk about impacts on programs and funds, what we’re really talking about are people. People in our community experiencing homelessness, hunger, abuse. People who care about clean water. Children, families and older adults.


This is why the Single Audit matters. It directly impacts all of us.

Please join me in urging the Auditor-Controller to provide the information needed to perform this critically important audit. We will continue to support these efforts any way we can.