The Schooling Division by accident awarded $73 million in pandemic emergency funding by means of the Greater Schooling Emergency Reduction Fund to 24 faculties as of August 2021, a new report from the department’s Office of the Inspector General discovered.
Federal stimulus funding helped to maintain faculties afloat throughout the pandemic and helped to boost state budgets for larger training. The duplicate funds have been a results of processing errors from the Schooling Division Workplace of Postsecondary Schooling, which occurred on account of processing purposes from faculties that by accident utilized to the identical HEERF program twice or processing the identical utility twice. The division says the universities did nothing flawed.
In whole, the duplicate funds solely accounted for 0.1 % of the $76 billion allotted by the federal authorities in emergency COVID-19 funding to schools and universities. Nonetheless, the Schooling Division watchdog has urged additional insurance policies and procedures to forestall duplicate awards.
Who Was Given Duplicate Funds?
The report didn’t identify particular faculties that obtained duplicate funds; nonetheless, it did observe the causes for course of errors. Out of the 24 faculties that obtained duplicate funds, 15 had submitted two purposes for a similar HEERF program, and the remaining 9 faculties had an utility processed twice by the division.
Solely eight faculties drew down the duplicate funds that have been allotted to them. To right the mistakenly allotted funds, the division both decreased the faculty’s grant award by the duplicate quantity, licensed the faculty to make use of the duplicate award beneath a distinct subcategory of HEERF (equivalent to utilizing it towards pupil assist quite than institutional assist), or decreased the varsity’s American Rescue Plan award quantity by the duplicate award.
The duplicate awards took a mean of 4 to 16 months to be acknowledged and corrected, relying on the subcategory of the award that was duplicated. The OIG mentioned within the report that the postsecondary training workplace didn’t present proof of documenting duplicate awards and solely did so as soon as the OIG had introduced the duplicate awards to their consideration.
Future Work to Forestall Duplicate Awards
In response to the report, the postsecondary training workplace has agreed to determine procedures to course of purposes and awards for HEERF and future emergency packages shortly and precisely.
The postsecondary training workplace responded to the findings within the report in a letter written to the inspector normal. Within the letter, Michelle Asha Cooper, appearing assistant secretary of postsecondary training, mentioned, “We take significantly our obligation to make sure program integrity whilst we search to assist IHEs meet pressing wants due to the pandemic. We repeatedly improved the administration of the packages to satisfy pressing wants with applicable accountability.”
She continued, “Importantly, we observe that among the many double obligations recognized, the Division was conscious of all however one and had absolutely resolved or was within the progress of resolving the duplicate awards. Additionally it is essential to notice that no HEERF grant funds have been in the end misspent. OPE shortly labored to resolve all recognized cases that weren’t beforehand corrected and recovered funds have been crucial with none hurt to the taxpayer.”