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Lessons Learned

The following reports and other communications highlight lessons learned arising from programs and operations related to economic crises and other disasters, including the coronavirus pandemic.

Lessons Learned in Oversight of Pandemic Relief Funds

The Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) supports independent oversight of $5 trillion worth of relief funds provided by Congress to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. This is an unprecedented amount of money, and it was disbursed quickly. The PRAC has worked with dozens of Inspectors General across the federal government to examine whether it was spent correctly and reached those it was intended to help. Together, we have issued more than 275 oversight reports that reveal common challenges facing agencies across major relief programs like unemployment insurance and loans to small businesses. Using this body of work, we’ve outlined five lessons for policymakers and agency leaders to consider. We intend for this to be a living document and will update this report as the PRAC and our partners’ findings lead to new lessons. Read the full report

S. Hrg. 113495: One Year Later: Examining the Ongoing Recovery from Hurricane Sandy

S. Hrg. 113495: ONE YEAR LATER: EXAMINING THE ONGOING RECOVERY FROM HURRICANE SANDY; 11/2013, the written testimony outlines on pages 6 - 8 (under subheading Coordination and subheading Challenges) issues around the lack of centralized reporting, the use of National Interest Action Codes for disaster contract spending, and the lack of similar coding for grant funding View Full Report

Crisis and Response: An FDIC History, 2008-2013

Crisis and Response: An FDIC History, 2008-2013 reviews the experience of the FDIC during a period in which the agency was confronted with two interconnected and overlapping crises -- first, a financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, and second, a banking crisis that began in 2008 and continued until 2013. View Full Report

Federal Spending Accountability: Preserving Capabilities of Recovery Operations Center Could Help Sustain Oversight of Federal Expenditures

Federal Spending Accountability: Preserving Capabilities of Recovery Operations Center Could Help Sustain Oversight of Federal Expenditures, a congressionally requested GAO report regarding the Department of the Treasury's decision not to invoke the section of the DATA Act which would have transferred the assets of the RAT Board Recovery Operations Center to the Department of the Treasury View Full Report

Acquisition, Development, and Construction (ADC) Loan Concentration Study (October 2012)

Acquisition, Development, and Construction (ADC) Loan Concentration Study (October 2012). The FDIC OIG evaluated FDIC-supervised institutions with significant ADC loan concentrations that did not fail during the economic downturn. We identified the factors that helped these banks mitigate the risks associated with ADC concentrations during periods of economic stress. View Full Report

Lessons Learned: CARES Act Awards

On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Among its provisions, the CARES Act provided the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) with $756 million to support the needs of DOI programs, bureaus, Indian Country, and the Insular Areas. The DOI will award most of its CARES Act funding through contracts and financial assistance agreements (such as grants and cooperative agreements). Our past work demonstrates that these awards are a vulnerable area for the DOI. Moreover, awards made as part of emergency response are riskier than normal because they are awarded quickly and often without competition and have a higher purchase threshold than other acquisitions. In this report we present lessons learned and risks identified in our prior work—both audits and investigations—that the DOI should consider as it makes awards and provides oversight under the CARES Act. We have found that the following factors are important for successful oversight: Ensuring sufficient workforce capacity Ensuring use of the appropriate award vehicle (contract vs. grant vs. cooperative agreement) Maximizing competition in the source selection process Ensuring background research and risk assessments of potential recipients Monitoring documentation and use of funds by recipients Reviewing recipients’ performance and financial reports View Full Report

Lessons Learned from Indian Country

The DOI will award most of its CARES Act funding to Indian Country through grants to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). Of the $756 million, $522 million (69.0 percent) will be funded to Indian Country. As of June 13, 2020, $419,462,721, or 80.4 percent, had been obligated. These emergency response awards from the DOI–together with more than $8.7 billion in awards to Indian Country from other Federal departments—present a higher risk because they must be spent in a short period of time. In addition, we have identified Indian Country as a high-risk area in our recent Top Management Challenges reports because in the past, the BIA, the BIE, and tribes have faced many challenges with handling grant funds. This further increases the risk that Federal tax dollars will be misused, abused, and vulnerable to fraud. In addition, emergency situations could grow rapidly in size, scope, or complexity, thereby elevating the risk even higher. In this report we present lessons learned in our prior work that the DOI, the BIA, and the BIE should consider as they make awards, promote safety, and provide oversight under the CARES Act. In our previous reports, we found that the following areas are important for improved safety and successful oversight: Ensuring Indian school safety and health while providing educational services Providing oversight to help prevent mismanagement of financial awards Minimizing the spread of the virus while maintaining safety within tribal detention centers The BIA, the BIE, tribes, and tribal organizations will have specific challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We know there are risks and complexities surrounding emergency funds that can be difficult to manage. As such, we plan to help provide oversight and ensure the CARES Act moneys are spent appropriately. View Full Report

CARES Act: Initial Areas of Concern Regarding Implementation of Unemployment Insurance Provisions

Advisory Report: CARES Act: Key Areas of Concern Regarding Implementation of Dislocated Worker Grant Provisions

Audit of Risks Associated with the Office of Justice Programs' Management of the Crime Victims Fund Grant Programs, Audit Report 17-36

Lessons Learned from Prior Reports on Disaster-related Procurement and Contracting

Lessons Learned from Implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The report provides ED OIG's perspective on challenges that were faced when administering education-related grant programs funded by the Recovery act, how the challenges were addressed, and what lessons should be considered in the event that legislation providing a large yet temporary funding increase (like the Recovery Act) is enacted in the future or for new or existing programs. Lessons learned from implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  View Full Report

Contingency Contracting: A Framework for Reform - 2015 Update

Agency for International Development Lessons Learned

This advisory notice poses key questions from past lessons learned for USAID to consider while planning and executing its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lessons learned and corresponding questions fall under four broad areas, which mirror the top management challenges we report annually to USAID: (1) managing risks to humanitarian assistance amid a public health emergency of international concern; (2) maintaining responsibilities for planning, monitoring, and sustaining U.S.-funded development; (3) maximizing stakeholder coordination for a global COVID-19 response; and (4) addressing vulnerabilities and implementing needed controls in Agency core management functions. View Full Report