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AmeriCorps Volunteers in Safety Vests
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Two AmeriCorps Volunteers at Laptop
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AmeriCorps Construction Worker

DENVER – The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced today that Denver Public Schools (“DPS”) has paid $2,123,811 to the United States to resolve a civil False Claims Act investigation into the operation of its AmeriCorps program and its misuse of AmeriCorps funds.  DPS also agreed to pay for any outstanding AmeriCorps education awards yet to be distributed, up to approximately $614,000.

AmeriCorps is a federally funded network of national service programs that address critical community needs like increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty, sustaining national parks, preparing for disasters, and more.  AmeriCorps volunteers—who are referred to as “members”—commit to service for a period of three months to a year in exchange for a living allowance, education awards, and other benefits. 

To receive an AmeriCorps education award, each member must complete a specified number of service hours, among other requirements. AmeriCorps grant recipients like DPS are responsible for verifying and certifying those hours to AmeriCorps, which maintains a fund to pay the education awards.

The United States alleges that, for grant years 2015 and 2016, DPS falsely certified to AmeriCorps that a significant portion of DPS’s members had performed the service hours necessary to qualify for an AmeriCorps education award, when in fact they had not. 

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Fraud Alert

 

The AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General (AmeriCorps OIG) is an independent office within AmeriCorps that provides oversight of the agency's programs and operations to protect the integrity of national service. AmeriCorps OIG performs audits, evaluations and investigations of AmeriCorps , its grantees and contractors, to promote efficiency and effectiveness, and to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse. The Office is staffed with auditors, investigators, attorneys, information technology and other specialists who ensure that we meet our core functions and responsibilities.

Maintaining close working relationships with AmeriCorps and its awardees help us focus our efforts on priority areas and facilitate our proactive educational efforts.  The Office consults AmeriCorps in developing plans and obtains agency feedback on reports before they are issued. Semiannually,  AmeriCorps OIG submits a summary report of its activities to the Congress and AmeriCorps leadership.

 

 

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Recent Activity

AmeriCorps’ Penetration Testing and Phishing Campaign Evaluation

AmeriCorps’ security program has not been effective in accordance with Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) since Fiscal Year 2017. In order to determine its current status, AmeriCorps OIG engaged an independent certified public accounting firm to conduct an internal penetration test of AmeriCorps’ network. The independent auditors tested AmeriCorps’ network to evaluate the effectiveness of its information security program and to identify areas of weakness.

Inspection / Evaluation

Office of Inspector General Assessment of AmeriCorps' Financial Statement Audit and Cybersecurity Corrective Action Plans

Report Number
OIG-SR-22-05

Since Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, AmeriCorps has not obtained an audit opinion on its financial statements. In FY 2021, independent auditors found nine material weaknesses and one significant deficiency, resulting in a total of 73 recommendations. In addition, each of AmeriCorps Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) annual Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA) evaluations since FY 2017 concluded that AmeriCorps’ cybersecurity and privacy program is ineffective. AmeriCorps has made little progress in implementing the 41 FISMA recommendations.

Review
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