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Transcript for audio podcast: Introduction to Hurricane Sandy HHS Grants and Contract Vulnerabilities

From the Office of Inspector General of Department of Health and Human Services

http://oig.hhs.gov

I'm Dan Levinson, Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services. I'm pleased to introduce this series of videos focused on grant and contract vulnerabilities related to Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy struck the United States near Atlantic City, New Jersey, on October 29, 2012. It was the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history and caused immense devastation. The damage from the storm affected 24 states and caused an estimated $71 billion in damage.

Disaster areas were declared from the Northeast, to the mid-Atlantic, and as far west as Wisconsin, a total of 12 states, and Washington D.C. The storm ravaged over 150,000 homes and destroyed businesses and public assistance facilities.

How is the HHS Office of Inspector General involved in natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy? Our Special Agents provide critical infrastructure protection and general law enforcement assistance before and after a disaster. We also oversee HHS programs, including grants and contracts.

HHS is the number one grant maker in the Federal government. In fiscal year 2013, HHS awarded approximately $340 billion dollars in grants. Given the size and scope of money HHS awards each year, these programs must operate effectively.

HHS funds important programs. Programs like Head Start, serving low income families operated by the Administration for Children and Families, and mental health programs run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Vital services rendered by some of these programs were disrupted by the hurricane. Additionally, various research facilities for the National Institutes of Health with a physical presence on the east coast were damaged by the storm.

Our goal is to make sure people who need health and human services get the best care and resources to recover from disasters. We have to make sure the recovery money goes to the right people. And after any major disaster like Hurricane Sandy, we must try to prevent fraud, waste and abuse, by ensuring that limited resources are used properly.

The videos that follow provide important guidance to HHS grant and contract officers, informing them of their roles and responsibilities, as well as risk areas when making awards to grantees or contractors. They also provide tips to help grantees and contractors use funds effectively and appropriately.

Finally, we discuss how fraud can occur in HHS programs and its consequences. Grant and contract oversight after any natural disaster, especially following a storm with this degree of destruction, is critical.

We hope you find this information helpful and informative.

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