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The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Resolved Approximately One-Third of Its Audit Recommendations, None in Accordance With Federal Timeframe Requirements

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), did not resolve audit recommendations in a timely manner during Federal fiscal years (FYs) 2015 and 2016. SAMHSA resolved 104 of the 292 audit recommendations that were outstanding during FYs 2015 and 2016. However, it did not resolve any of the 104 recommendations within the required 6-month resolution period. In addition, as of September 30, 2016, SAMHSA had not resolved 188 audit recommendations that were past due for resolution. These 188 past-due recommendations were procedural in nature; none of them involved dollar amounts such as recommended disallowances.

As of July 1, 2015, SAMHSA had draft policies and procedures in place (which were verbally conveyed to its staff before that date) to ensure that audit recommendations were resolved in compliance with Federal requirements, but did not generally follow them. As a result, SAMHSA did not issue any management decisions (and submit the related clearance documents to the Office of Inspector General (OIG)) within the required 6-month resolution period. In addition, SAMHSA's policies and procedures had not been finalized at the time of our audit work, and SAMHSA did not perform periodic reconciliations with OIG's stewardship reports.

Without resolving all audit recommendations in a timely manner, SAMHSA 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 recommend that SAMHSA finalize and follow its policies and procedures related to the audit resolution process, promptly resolve the 188 outstanding audit recommendations that were past due as of September 30, 2016, and reconcile each month the appropriate OIG or HHS records with SAMHSA's audit resolution records and follow up on any differences noted.

SAMHSA concurred with all of our recommendations and described corrective actions that it had taken or planned to take. SAMHSA stated that it would update and finalize its policies and procedures for resolving audits within required timeframes by July 31, 2019. In addition, SAMHSA stated that it would initiate audit resolution efforts for all 188 outstanding audit recommendations by September 30, 2019. Finally, SAMHSA stated that effective immediately, it would perform monthly reconciliations of its audit resolution records with those of the appropriate oversight office.

Filed under: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration