Sneak Preview: OIG Seeks Documentation Improvements at Airports

June 7, 2013 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment
xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from an article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Over the next year, the Federal Aviation Administration will survey certain airports receiving FAA grants to determine which keep electronic grant records and how it can access those records to improve oversight in response to a recommendation from the Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General.

OIG recently reviewed FAA’s oversight of Airport Improvement Program grants awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. FAA’s AIP Handbook, which provides guidance for FAA staff to administer the program, defines payment eligibility and documentation requirements under the program. It also describes which documentation the agency considers sufficient to support grantee payment requests. FAA’s airport district offices are responsible for awarding and overseeing AIP grants.

OIG found that FAA lacked sufficient oversight to prevent or detect more than $1.4 million in improper Recovery Act payments at the airports it reviewed. Of this total, about $900,000 was paid for services that lacked FAA’s approval, expenses that were not eligible for payment from federal grant funds or payments that were billed to the wrong grant. For example, San Francisco International Airport officials improperly sought reimbursement for more than $832,000 for unapproved taxiway and drainage work and ineligible survey equipment. Based on this sample, OIG projected about $24.3 million in AIP improper payments nationwide.

OIG determined that FAA relied too much on grantee assurances that their payment requests were accurate and supported, and that its oversight of payments was typically limited to reviewing summary documentation, which frequently lacked enough detail to reveal improper charges.

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