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Visiting Nurse Service of New York Budgeted Costs That Were Not Appropriate and Claimed Some Unallowable Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Act Funds

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) awarded approximately $4.8 million in Disaster Relief Act funds to Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY), a not-for-profit home health care agency that operated Head Start and Early Head Start programs in New York, New York. The funds were for program expenses directly related to Hurricane Sandy, including nearly $800,000 for repairs and renovations at one of VNSNY's two locations. Of the $760,000 in Disaster Relief Act costs that we reviewed, $375,000 complied with applicable Federal requirements. However, VNSNY claimed some Disaster Relief Act costs that did not comply with applicable Federal requirements. Specifically, VNSNY improperly claimed costs totaling $385,000 that were not directly related to Hurricane Sandy. VNSNY used Disaster Relief Act funds for Head Start program normal operating costs (i.e., rent and rent-related costs, renovation and supplies costs) that were not directly related to Hurricane Sandy. In addition, VNSNY budgeted Disaster Relief Act costs totaling $2.5 million that were not appropriate, including fireproofing and Head Start program costs that were not directly related to Hurricane Sandy and construction costs that were not appropriate once VNSNY abandoned its plan to repair and renovate one of its locations. These deficiencies occurred because ACF (1) inappropriately authorized VNSNY to budget and claim Disaster Relief Act grant funds for costs that were not directly related to Hurricane Sandy and (2) did not require VNSNY to revise its budget in accordance with Federal requirements. We recommended that ACF:
  • Adjust its grant accounts by deobligating $385,000 in inappropriate Disaster Relief Act expenditures and obligating funds available for these expenditures. If appropriate funds are not available, ACF must report the overobligation as a violation of the Antideficiency Act, and VNSNY must refund the amount, or ACF must seek additional appropriations to cover these obligations.
  • Work with VNSNY to determine whether $3,387,000 in Disaster Relief Act expenditures claimed ($4,147,000 that VNSNY claimed as of June 30, 2015, less $760,000 that we reviewed) were allowable in accordance with Federal requirements and refund any unallowable amounts. If any expenses incurred were not directly related to Hurricane Sandy, ACF must adjust its grant accounts by obligating appropriate funds. If appropriate funds are not available, ACF must report the overobligation as a violation of the Antideficiency Act, and VNSNY must refund the amount, or ACF must seek additional appropriations to cover these obligations.
VNSNY disagreed with our findings and recommendations. ACF disagreed with our first recommendation, agreed with our second recommendation, and described actions it has taken and plans to take to address it.

Copies can also be obtained by contacting the Office of Public Affairs at Public.Affairs@oig.hhs.gov.

Download the complete report.

Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services | 330 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20201