The National Science Foundation Needs a Formal System for Followup on Audit Reports

HRD-78-147: Published: Oct 3, 1978. Publicly Released: Oct 3, 1978.

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Because of concerns over the effects of inflation on the research dollar and the propriety of costs charged to Federal funds by grantees and contractors, the effectiveness of the National Science Foundation's activities for ensuring that responsible officials act on audit reports assessing its operations and the expenditure of funds by contractors and grantees was reviewed. The Audit Office of the Office of Audit and Oversight is responsible for followup on reports which it issues to ensure that findings and recommendations are adequately considered and that corrective actions have been taken.

The Foundation's informal approach to followup on audit reports resulted in a very low priority being assigned to followup. The Audit Office followed up on very few recommendations in its reports and did not follow up to determine whether the Division of Grants and Contracts acted on audit reports submitted by other audit agencies. The Division of Grants and Contracts closed its files on many audit reports concerning the Foundation's grantees and contractors without attempting to resolve the findings. Actions to resolve audit findings generally were not timely.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Director of the National Science Foundation should establish a formal system of followup on audit reports, providing for: control and accountability for audit reports, coordination with other agencies to act on audit reports involving more than one agency, reconciliation of differences or calling for a decision at a higher management level when officials disagree with audit findings and recommendations, schedules for assuring timely resolution of audit findings and followup action when improvements are promised, maintenance of records of actions taken and evidence to substantiate those actions, periodic reports to top management on the status of audit findings and recommendations, evaluation of the effectiveness of the actions taken to resolve audit findings, and periodic evaluation of the effectiveness of the followup system.

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