OIG-AR-21-04 (AmeriCorps OIG)
In 2019, Congress enacted the Payment Integrity Information Act (PIIA) to update required reporting on agencies’ improper payments. PIIA requires agencies to review and identify programs and activities that may be susceptible to significant improper payments, to estimate the rate and amount of improper payments in agency programs, and to report on their actions to reduce and recover those payments. The Inspector General of each agency assesses compliance with these requirements annually. Despite continuing work to improve its compliance with PIIA and preceding improper payment legislation, AmeriCorps remains non-compliant and did not meet four of the six PIIA requirements. Specifically, three of the four programs reported that more than ten percent of their payments were improper. AmeriCorps did not appropriately establish its published reduction targets, nor did it publish a complete and appropriate corrective action plan to reduce improper payments. Furthermore, AmeriCorps did not estimate reliably the amount and the rate of improper payments made in the AmeriCorps State and National Program, Foster Grandparent Program (FGP), Senior Companion Program (SCP), and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), due to AmeriCorps’ sampling methodology and statistical projections. AmeriCorps attributes the decreases in the improper payments rates to the implementation of an approved third-party vendor solution that grantees may use to perform required criminal history checks, previously the primary root cause of AmeriCorps’ improper payments. Although this corrective action reduced the improper payment rates in FY 2020, AmeriCorps continued to report improper payment rates equal to or above the ten percent threshold for the FGP, SCP, and RSVP programs. AmeriCorps agreed to implement our recommendations to update its improper payment standard operating procedures, strengthen supervision and oversight of the sample selection, testing, and statistical projection procedures, and develop and implement actions to reduce the improper payment rates below ten percent for FY 2021. AmeriCorps Management’s Response can be found in Appendix C of the report.
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