Sneak Preview: DOI OIG Seeks Policy for Tracking Land Purchases

September 15, 2017 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) Officials within the Department of the Interior (DOI) plan to increase training for DOI program managers and grant recipients to help them comply with the Office of Management and Budget’s uniform guidance provision on real property reporting (§200.329) concerning land purchased with federal grant funds, in response to a recent DOI Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit recommendation.

Multiple DOI programs award grants for the purchase of land. The land purchased does not become federal land; rather, the title is held by the grant recipient, who is also responsible for honoring the specific purpose of the grant, such as conservation or public access. The recipient also is responsible for selecting a real estate appraiser to determine the value of the property, which is then provided to the awarding agency. Awarding agencies review and accept the appraisal as adequate, as long as it meets national uniform appraisal standards.

To determine whether DOI was appropriately tracking information about grants awarded for land purchases, OIG surveyed about 108 grant programs that award funds for land purchases to determine how much land was bought and how the programs operated. Of these, OIG identified 16 programs that met its scope of review, adding that from federal fiscal year (FY) 2014 to FY 2015, these 16 programs awarded 701 grants to purchase land valued at about $815 million.

Following its review, OIG determined that DOI does not have a centralized tracking system for land purchases, and that grant recipients are not consistently complying with the real property reporting provision in the uniform guidance. “Overall, our survey demonstrated both the massive amount of grant funding that DOI programs award for land purchases and the inconsistency with which these programs track data on grants used to purchase land,” OIG stated. “Without an adequate process in place to monitor funds used to purchase land, DOI is potentially exposed to significant risk of wasted funds.”

(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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