Indianz.Com > COVID-19 > Lessons Learned for CARES Act Awards (Department of the Interior Inspector General)
Posted: May 25, 2020

Lessons Learned for CARES Act Awards

Create Date:  Thursday, May 21, 2020
Report Date:  Wednesday, May 20, 2020


On March 27, 2020, the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Among its provisions, the CARES Act provided the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) with $756 million to support the needs of DOI programs, bureaus, Indian Country, and the Insular Areas.

The DOI will award most of its CARES Act funding through contracts and financial assistance agreements (such as grants and cooperative agreements). Our past work demonstrates that these awards are a vulnerable area for the DOI. Moreover, awards made as part of emergency response are riskier than normal because they are awarded quickly and often without competition and have a higher purchase threshold than other acquisitions.

In this report we present lessons learned and risks identified in our prior work—both audits and investigations—that the DOI should consider as it makes awards and provides oversight under the CARES Act. We have found that the following factors are important for successful oversight:

• Ensuring sufficient workforce capacity
• Ensuring use of the appropriate award vehicle (contract vs. grant vs. cooperative agreement)
• Maximizing competition in the source selection process
• Ensuring background research and risk assessments of potential recipients
• Monitoring documentation and use of funds by recipients
• Reviewing recipients’ performance and financial reports

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