Sneak Preview: Grants Management Remains a Top Challenge at HHS

December 16, 2016 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment
xgran_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Federal Grants Management Handbook.) Grants management continued to be one of the top management and performance challenges facing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) during the previous year. In its annual report on the agency’s top 10 primary vulnerabilities, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) noted that HHS’ awarding agencies struggled to implement needed internal controls to minimize financial risk and to protect resources.

The oversight of grant funding and protecting these dollars from fraud, waste and abuse have been included in the HHS OIG’s top 10 report for the past several years. “HHS needs to take more aggressive action to identify poorly performing grantees and those at risk of misspending federal dollars and either provide increased technical assistance and monitoring or prevent them from continuing to receive grant funds,” the OIG report said. “Sustained focus and information sharing is needed to monitor and address vulnerabilities, and HHS must diligently continue efforts to ensure that recipients use funds consistent with legal requirements and departmental policies and procedures.”

HHS is the largest grantmaking federal agency, awarding more than $400 billion in grants in federal fiscal year (FY) 2015. However, the OIG found that numerous grants management deficiencies exist throughout HHS. For example, awarding agencies do not effectively share information about problematic grantees. “Intra-department communication is critical, especially because awarding agencies are now required to assess risks posed by grant applicants,” the report states.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), under the statutory and national policy requirements provision (§200.300) of the uniform guidance, notes that federal awarding agencies must manage and administer federal awards in a manner as to ensure that federal funding is expended in full accordance with U.S. statutes and public policy requirements. The provision also states that nonfederal entities are responsible for complying with all requirements of the federal award. Furthermore, under the pre-award risk assessment provision (§200.205) and the determinations provision (§200.212), federal agencies can reduce the risk of poorly administered federal funds by preventing an award to nonfederal agencies who are deemed at risk of misspending federal dollars or who have integrity issues.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)


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