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Department of Housing and Urban Development OIG

Drawdown Levels for the Initial Round of CARES Act Emergency Solutions Grants Were Minimal

We conducted this limited review to identify the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) drawdown levels for the initial round of Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) funding. In addition, we researched information published by grantees on how they have used and will use their funds. Our objective was to highlight the grantees’ (1) drawdown levels for the initial round of ESG CARES Act funding and (2) published information on how the funds have and will be used. Our review determined that as of July 1, 2020, the ESG CARES Act drawdown levels for the initial round of funding of $1 billion had been minimal. In addition, a majority of grantees in our sample had not elected to waive their citizen participation plans or indicated whether they would use their consultation waiver, and many had not published their planned uses of the funds. We did not make any recommendations to HUD.
Department of Health & Human Services OIG

Office of Refugee Resettlement Ensured That Selected Care Providers Were Prepared To Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic

On July 1, 2019, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Humanitarian Assistance and Security at the Southern Border Act, 2019 (P.L. 116-26) appropriated $2.9 billion for the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) Program. Title IV provided $5 million for the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), to conduct oversight of the UAC Program. On January 31, 2020, in response to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the Secretary of HHS declared a public health emergency. Following this declaration, Congress appropriated $12 million to HHS-OIG to conduct oversight of HHS's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous HHS-OIG work has focused on the Office of Refugee Resettlement's (ORR's) efforts to ensure the health and safety of children in the UAC Program, including when the UAC Program experiences a sudden change in the number or needs of children. This report builds on our oversight of ORR's efforts to protect children and is one of two reports addressing emergency preparedness at ORR facilities. This report specifically addresses communicable disease preparedness. Our objective was to determine whether ORR ensured that selected care provider facilities (facilities) followed ORR requirements in preparing for and responding to communicable diseases, such as COVID-19.
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.
U.S. 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.
National Reconnaissance Office OIG

Evaluation of the National Reconnaissance Office’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response

The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) OIG conducted this evaluation to identify any best practices implemented or challenges encountered by NRO Headquarters and selected field sites in responding to the pandemic. Areas of evaluation contained in this report include mission sustainment, policy, leadership, facilities and logistics, health and safety, communications, and human resources. This report is fundamentally informational and contains perspectives and opinions of NRO’s leadership and workforce.
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.