Corporation for National and Community Service:

Preliminary Observations on the National Service Trust and AmeriCorps

GAO-03-642T: Published: Apr 10, 2003. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 2003.

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Cornelia M. Ashby
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In November 2002, the Corporation for National and Community Service suspended enrollments in the AmeriCorps program due to concern that the National Service Trust may not contain enough funds to meet the education award obligations resulting from AmeriCorps enrollments. This testimony reflects GAO's preliminary review of the factors that contributed to the need to suspend enrollments and GAO's preliminary assessment of the Corporation's proposed changes.

The number of participants enrolled in AmeriCorps increased by about 20,000 from program year 1998 to program year 2001. However, the number of AmeriCorps participants was not reconciled with the number of education awards that the National Service Trust could support. GAO identified several factors that led the Corporation to suspend enrollments. The factors included inappropriate obligation practices, little or no communication among key Corporation executives, too much flexibility given to grantees regarding enrollments, and unreliable data on the number of AmeriCorps participants. The Corporation has established new policies that may improve the overall management of the National Service Trust if the policies are fully implemented. However, the Corporation has not made policy changes to correct a key factor--how it obligates funds for education awards.

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