Department of Housing and Urban Development OIG
Opportunities Existed to Improve HUD’s Responses to Inquiries From Borrowers, Industry Partners, and the General Public Regarding Forbearance and Foreclosure Relief Provided by the CARES Act
As part of the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) 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 responses to inquiries regarding forbearance and foreclosure relief. The objective of our review was to evaluate the accuracy of HUD’s responses to inquiries from borrowers, industry partners, and the general public regarding forbearance and foreclosure relief provided by the CARES Act. We found that HUD could improve its customer service to borrowers, industry partners, and the general public by providing more direct, accurate, and complete responses to their inquiries.
U.S. Agency for International Development OIG
This brief provides information on USAID’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated challenges, as well as related oversight plans and activities. OIG prepared this informational brief to increase stakeholder knowledge and public transparency regarding these efforts. This brief reports on activities from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic through August 31, 2020.
Department of Veterans Affairs OIG
The OIG reviewed the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) processing of mail and benefit claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the review team examined whether VBA staff documented the date of receipt for benefits-related correspondence as required by new guidance during the national state of emergency and continued mail operations at VA facilities to ensure benefit claims were processed. Based on its sample analysis, the OIG found VBA staff did not properly apply date of receipt documentation guidance for an estimated 98 percent of 3,200 claims established from April 7 through April 20, 2020. The date of receipt is important because it may be used to establish when veterans become entitled to benefit payments. Veterans could be underpaid if staff record an incorrect date of receipt. However, VBA staff were not always aware of all aspects of documentation guidance and had not received training on it. VBA staff did continue to process mail received at VA facilities, with the postal service forwarding all regional office mail to a scanning facility starting March 31, 2020. Offices that did not have mail automatically forwarded were to have staff available to process incoming mail. The team surveyed regional office staff and found that the majority of regional offices used these methods to continue mail operations. Representatives from veterans service organizations also confirmed that mail operations continued at their offices in Detroit and Los Angeles, where they are colocated with VBA staff. VBA concurred with the OIG’s three recommendations to: (1) ensure VBA staff understand date of receipt guidance for claims received during the pandemic and implement those actions; (2) make certain that claims received and completed from March 1, 2020, had the correct date of entitlement; and (3) evaluate existing guidance for recording the date of receipt for claims without a postmark.
U.S. Postal Service OIG
In 2019, carriers delivered nearly 6 billion packages to every corner of America—more than 19 million every day. This represents an 87 percent increase in the U.S. Postal Service’s package volume since 2013, driven by booming ecommerce sales.
Department of Education OIG
This management information report provides the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) perspective on challenges the U.S. Department of Education (Department) may face as it implements and oversees the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In preparing this report, we reviewed recent audit work performed by OIG and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as well as OIG’s annual Management Challenges reports. We also reviewed challenges that the Department faced when administering education-related grant programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), to include how the challenges were addressed and what lessons were noted as needing to be considered in the event that legislation providing a large yet temporary funding increase for new or existing programs (like the Recovery Act) was enacted in the future. We identified challenges related to grantee oversight and monitoring, student financial assistance oversight and monitoring, and data quality and reporting that the Department should consider as it implements and oversees the CARES Act.
U.S. Postal Service OIG
The U.S. Postal Service has a formal role in the federal National Response Framework, which guides the country’s response to disasters and emergencies like hurricanes, bioterrorism, pandemics and other incidents. The OIG examined how the Postal Service continues to support the American public during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even as the outbreak affects postal operations. The Postal Service has delivered essential items like prescriptions, unemployment benefit and stimulus payments, personal protective equipment, and coronavirus test kits. The Postal Service also has provided a backbone for the surge in ecommerce as more consumers buy household goods online. Ensuring the continuation of mail service during this challenging time is helping to keep the American public stay safe, secure, and connected.
Federal Housing Finance Agency OIG
Management Advisory: FHFA-OIG’s Investigation of Allegations of Fraud Affecting Paycheck Protection Program Loans Obtained or Sought from Federal Home Loan Bank Member Institutions
Department of Commerce OIG
2020 Census Alert: The Census Bureau Faces Challenges in Ensuring Employee Health Safety During 2020 Census Field Operations
OIG issued this 2020 Census Alert due to our concerns—about the Census Bureau’s (Bureau’s) inconsistent implementation of safety procedures to prevent the spread of coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) as it completed its 2020 Census operations—that required immediate attention. Based on the number and consistency of COVID-19-related OIG hotline complaints that we received, we were concerned that the Bureau was not fully complying with key elements of its own COVID-19 safety requirements—or operating fully in line with recommended guidance provided by the Department of Commerce (the Department), the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Labor (Labor)—and was not holding its managers, employees, and contractors fully accountable for noncompliance, thereby putting their health at risk. Between March 9 and August 21, 2020, OIG received multiple hotline complaints from 26 different Bureau locations in multiple states, alleging 76 instances3 of violations related to the Bureau’s COVID-19 safety protocol. These included at least one of the following allegations: that Bureau employees (a) did not follow proper protocol when staff were exposed to office colleagues who tested positive to the virus; (b) did not follow social distancing recommendations; and/or (c) did not properly implement the mandate to wear masks or facial coverings, even when supplied by the Bureau.