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Update: Top Challenges in Pandemic Relief and Response

As federal agencies address the health and economic crisis resulting from the pandemic, they have faced significant challenges in distributing $3.5 trillion quickly and preventing fraud of the funds.

In this update to the Top Challenges report issued in June 2020, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee has identified four new major challenges in addition to the four existing challenges facing the agencies.

Read the updated report here.

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Learn the top challenges federal agencies face managing pandemic-related programs and funding.

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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Paycheck Protection Program, and Economic Impact Disaster Loan program are being hit by bad actors looking to fraudulently obtain federal funds. Preventing and Detecting Fraud against Government Programs is of high importance to federal agencies and the federal managers responsible for reducing fraud risks. When managers can identify and address fraud risks, agencies can improve fraud prevention, detection, and response. 

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Americans are being targeted in all types of scams related to the pandemic so Informing and Protecting the Public from Pandemic-Related Fraud is one of the major challenges for agencies. For example, scammers are committing identity theft to steal unemployment money from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. Other scammers are attempting to sell faulty personal protection equipment to essential workers. Various federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the FBI, must tell the public about these scams, as well as how and when to file a possible fraud complaint.

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To make decisions and assess the performance of programs, federal agencies need complete and accurate data. Recipients of pandemic-related funds are supposed to report to the government on how they’re using the money, but we found that the government isn’t always making sure that recipients report the required data. Our report outlines the gaps in agencies’ Data Transparency and Completeness which impact the ability to manage pandemic response programs. 

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Federal employees have, for the most part, been working from home during the pandemic.  However, as the agencies make plans for returning to in-person work, we found that they will face challenges in ensuring Federal Workforce Safety.   

Prior pandemic-related challenges identified by the PRAC include: 

  • Financial Management of Relief Funding
  • Grants and Guaranteed Loan Management
  • IT Security and Management
  • Protecting Health and Safety

Read more about those challenges in our June 2020 report. 

Page last modified: 11/06/2023
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