Despite continuing work to improve its Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) compliance program, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) did not meet three of the six IPERA compliance criteria, unchanged from FY 2018. Specifically, CNCS was unable to reliably estimate the amount or the rate of improper payments in the AmeriCorps State and National Program, the Foster Grandparent Program (FGP), the Senior Companion Program, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Further, CNCS has not met its targets for reducing improper payments, nor has it achieved a rate of improper payments below the ten percent threshold required to comply with IPERA. The rate of improper payments in each of the four programs was higher than in FY 2018, with substantial increases in RSVP and FGP.
CNCS has developed a vendor solution to improve grantees’ performance of required criminal history checks—the primary root cause of its improper payments—but this corrective action occurred too late to affect this year’s results. CNCS expects that use of the vendor will reduce the improper payment rates beginning in FY 2020.
In summary, we recommend that CNCS fully implement planned programmatic corrective actions in the four programs; develop a detailed plan to establish realistic reduction targets and implement actions to reduce the improper payment rates below ten percent for FY 2020; and update its sampling and estimation methodology to ensure that its future improper payment estimates are complete and accurate.
CNCS agreed with the majority of our recommendations to improve corrective actions, reporting mechanisms, mandatory training, and the reliability of its statistical estimate, important steps toward reducing its improper payment rates in the four grant programs. CNCS disagreed with our recommendations to improve its current treatment of unmatched reporting errors and zero-dollar transactions and a desired precision based upon its anticipated improper payment rates. We adhere to our recommendations.
CNCS provided a corrective action plan to respond to the audit findings and recommendations that they concurred with, attached in Appendix D in the report.