HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A consulting company and a former university employee say Alabama A&M University is holding back grant money they're owed. It's more than a million dollars that was supposed to fund programs in Ethiopia.
A grant was awarded to Alabama A&M University to support a textbook program, giving children all the way in Ethiopia a chance to get their hands on learning material.
The people who were brought in to help run the program claim they haven't been paid, despite the money being available.
Don Groves, CEO of Horizon Consultants, was brought into help in 2009 to manage payroll and make sure funds were paid out in a timely manner.
"There are 1-million children in Ethiopia that are waiting on textbooks, and that was the purpose of the program. It's extremely frustrating as to why we would go three to five months without being paid," added Groves.
Alabama A&M was awarded a $14.2-million in a grant in 2005 over six years from USAID to advance education in Ethiopia with the textbook program.
Groves claims in 2009, USAID audited the university and found late payments to be a consistent problem.
A letter to USAID from A&M president Dr. Andrew Hugine in 2009 addressed the inconvenience by saying it was a "processing problem."
Since then, Groves said payments have been made without issue until this past May when the payments stopped for about a dozen people who travel, print the textbooks, and do consultant work. The total tab was around $1.4-million.
A&M gave a statement that basically said it all comes down to paperwork.
"The university will cooperate with the release of all remaining grant funds once it receives sufficient documentation justifying the release of these funds and written approval from USAID. To me that seems like a stalling tactic," said Groves.
We are working to get a response from USAID to see if paperwork really is the issue and to see if we can help resolve it.