The Administration for Children and Families Did Not Always Resolve Audit Recommendations in Accordance With Federal Requirements
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), did not always resolve audit recommendations in a timely manner during Federal fiscal years (FYs) 2015 and 2016. Specifically, ACF resolved 1,570 of the 2,248 audit recommendations that were outstanding during FYs 2015 and 2016. However, it did not resolve 1,392 of the 1,570 recommendations (88.7 percent) within the required 6-month resolution period. In addition, as of September 30, 2016, ACF had not resolved 678 audit recommendations that were past due for resolution. The dollar amounts associated with these past-due recommendations totaled $36.5 million.
ACF had policies and procedures in place to ensure that audit recommendations were resolved in compliance with Federal requirements, and these policies and procedures specifically stated that audit recommendations are considered unresolved if they are not resolved within 6 months of the audit report’s issue date. However, ACF did not always issue management decisions and submit the related Office of Inspector General (OIG) clearance documents (OCDs) to OIG within the required 6-month resolution period.
According to ACF officials, ACF did not always issue OCDs within 6 months primarily because it lacked sufficient staff to perform this work. These officials also alluded to the large number of grants that ACF awards, and they acknowledged that audit resolution may not always have been given high priority because most of the ACF staff involved in this audit resolution process had other assigned duties as well.
Without resolving all audit recommendations in a timely manner, ACF runs the risk of noncompliance with Federal requirements and mismanagement of Federal funds. The prompt resolution of audit recommendations helps ensure that Federal funds are effectively and efficiently used to carry out the activities for which they were authorized.
We recommended that ACF (1) follow its policies and procedures to ensure that management decisions are issued within the required 6-month resolution period, (2) resolve the 678 outstanding audit recommendations that were past due as of September 30, 2016, (3) follow its recently implemented procedures by reconciling each month the OIG stewardship reports with ACF’s internal audit tracking and monitoring system and following up on any differences noted, and (4) give higher priority to audit resolution so that the audit resolution process is conducted in accordance with Federal requirements.
ACF concurred with all of our recommendations and described actions that it had taken or planned to take. ACF said that it would continue to work toward complying with the required 6-month resolution period and resolving the backlog of outstanding audit recommendations and added that it would continue to work with OIG to reconcile the OIG stewardship reports to its own internal audit tracking and monitoring system. In addition, ACF stated that it is working to realign workflow and responsibilities to prioritize and place greater emphasis on audit resolution.
Filed under: Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services