Cuban Refugee Resettlement:

Federal Administration of VisionQuest Projects Inadequate

HRD-89-16: Published: Dec 30, 1988. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on a firm's Cuban entrant program, focusing on: (1) the amount and sources of federal funds it received; (2) how it spent the federal funds; (3) the propriety of its paying for leases with federal funds; and (4) how the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) carried out its administrative responsibilities.

GAO found that the firm: (1) received about $1.7 million from the Social Security Administration's Office of Refugee Resettlement, $16.5 million from the NIMH Refugee Mental Health Program, and $585,000 from the Department of Justice's Community Relations Service; (2) provided community-based mental health services to 245 Cuban youth resettling in the United States; (3) did not comply with its proposed 18-month maximum participation limit until NIMH issued a policy guideline limiting participation to 6 to 9 months; (4) could not evaluate its program's effectiveness, since it did not follow up on participants after discharge; and (5) spent $196,150 more than it was authorized to during three award periods. GAO also found that NIMH did not: (1) adjust program funding to reflect the varied number of participants during different award periods; (2) adequately document or maintain program-related proposals, budget requests and cooperative agreements, program expenditures, or monitoring reports; (3) develop an indirect cost rate and allowed the firm to charge the government $2.4 million in indirect costs it categorized as burden allocation; (4) take any enforcement action for the firm's failure to timely submit acceptable financial status reports; or (5) maintain adequate documentation to support the propriety of the firm's charging the government for the costs of its leasing arrangements.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Executive Officer, ADAMHA, and PHS completed a comprehensive review of the NIMH Grants Management Office in April 1990. The final report included several findings and recommendations to improve operations to ensure the integrity of the grants management process at NIMH.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct Public Health Service (PHS) grants management and program officials to: (1) evaluate NIMH procedures, activities, and records relating to VisionQuest's cooperative agreements; and (2) obtain and develop needed documentation to bring NIMH official files into compliance with PHS policies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: PHS reviewed NIMH active and closed community-based treatment projects for Cuban entrants and found deficiencies similar to those GAO found at VisionQuest. The Executive Officer, ADAMHA, and PHS completed a comprehensive review of the NIMH Grants Management Office. The final report included several recommendations to improve operations to ensure the integrity of the grants processed at NIMH.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct PHS grants management and program officials to review NIMH administration of all cooperative agreements for community-based treatment of Cuban entrants to determine whether NIMH carried out its responsibilities in compliance with PHS policies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

 

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