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Department of Veterans Affairs OIG

Veterans Crisis Line Challenges, Contingency Plans, and Successes During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed Veterans Crisis Line (VCL) operations ranging from contingency planning to quality metrics and lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. The OIG completed remote interviews, document reviews, and surveyed VCL employees and Suicide Prevention staff. VCL staff had historically worked from communal call centers with shared space and equipment, a model that posed a safety risk to staff during the pandemic. To continue operations, VCL’s primary challenge was to equip and transition nearly 800 employees to telework-based operations. Over the course of six weeks, VA’s Office of Information and Technology prioritized VCL’s equipment needs and issued computers, monitors, and iPhones. Regional information technology staff ensured that VCL employees connected to the VA intranet site and accessed the programs needed to perform their duties. VCL employees were provided with training, guidance, and resources related to telework and new VCL processes. VCL leaders implemented precautionary measures to reduce staff’s risk of exposure in the call centers during the transition to telework by expanding call center space to allow for social distancing, providing face masks and sanitizing wipes, and requiring compliance with VHA-wide screening for COVID-19 symptoms before building entry. Despite these efforts, some surveyed employees felt some measures were inadequate to ensure safety. The VCL continued to meet performance targets for key indicators including speed of answer, rate of call abandonment, and levels of silent monitoring and caller satisfaction during and after staff’s transition to telework. VCL leaders reported that, in the future, VCL could benefit from a broader technology and equipment plan, its own information technology staff, and managing its own contracts; better succession planning with overlap for key positions; and maintaining an inventory of items such as headsets, keyboards, and cell phones. The OIG made no recommendations.
Agency for International Development OIG

COVID-19 Oversight Plan Fiscal Years 2021 - 2022

Congress has appropriated approximately $1.34 billion in supplemental funding for USAID’s programming and operations related to COVID-19 and $1 million for OIG oversight. OIG’s COVID-19 Oversight Plan for fiscal years 2021-2022 presents our plans for oversight of USAID activities carried out pursuant to the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (Public Law 116-123) and the CARES Act (Public Law 116-136). The Oversight Plan also presents USAID responses to operational challenges and second-order effects presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Department of Housing and Urban Development OIG

Opportunities Exist To Improve HUD’s Communication to Renters About Eviction Protections

As part of the Office of Inspector General’s effort to provide oversight of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) relief efforts provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), we reviewed HUD’s communication to renters regarding the eviction moratorium found in Section 4024. The objective of our review was to highlight the progress HUD has made and identify areas for improvement. We found that HUD provided critical information to many of these renters through its website and published guidance. However, we identified several aspects of HUD’s communication to renters on its website and published guidance that could be strengthened. Further, we identified areas of the joint website that could be improved. While the Section 4024 eviction moratorium expired on July 24, 2020, it is still crucial that HUD have clear, complete, and accessible guidance available to help renters at a time when their health and financial stability may be at risk. If HUD maintains up-to-date and easily accessible information for all impacted renters, including information on any new renter protections, it would help to ensure that renters know their rights, maintain housing stability through the pandemic, and avoid homelessness.
Government Publishing Office OIG

GPO COVID-19 and Telework Survey Report

We conducted surveys of GPO’s COVID-19 response and maximum telework status. The report contains our analysis and considerations for GPO Leadership and also contains the raw survey results as an attachment.
U.S. Postal Service OIG

Military, Diplomatic, and Other International Election Mail

The Postal Service processes international election and political mail for eligible U.S. citizens throughout the world. Military and diplomatic members and their families or other U.S. citizens located in foreign countries can use or receive these types of mail. Election mail is any item mailed to, or from, authorized election officials that enables citizens to participate in the voting process. For example, local election offices in the U.S. send ballots or other election materials to international recipients and the international voters mail their completed election ballots back. Political mail is related campaign or messaging mail, and generally entails only outbound operations. Our objective was to evaluate the Postal Service’s preparedness for processing international election mail, including military and diplomatic mail.