Homelessness:

Access to McKinney Act Programs Improved but Better Oversight Needed

RCED-91-29: Published: Dec 28, 1990. Publicly Released: Dec 28, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal agencies' administration of 14 programs established by the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, focusing on: (1) actions to eliminate or reduce barriers to obtain and use program funds; (2) program oversight; and (3) program expenditures.

GAO found that: (1) the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Health and Human Services (HHS), Education, and Labor (DOL) eased such barriers as requiring matching funds, environmental reviews, and time limits for program expenditures, to help assistance providers in obtaining and using funds; (2) HUD and Education failed to adequately monitor their programs; (3) the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Education, DOL, and HUD had efforts underway to improve monitoring and to evaluate programs, while HHS continued to rely on states to monitor and evaluate two of its block grant programs; (4) the five agencies were evaluating the effectiveness of most of their programs, although the lack of consistent data on program operations made evaluations difficult; (5) the agencies expressed concern that assistance providers did not timely spend funds, since several recipients had not spent significant portions of their grants; (6) reasons for nonexpenditure included time needed to award contracts for major building renovations, the uncertainty of federal funding, and community resistance; and (7) HUD, HHS, and Education modified program regulations, issued guidance, and proposed legislative changes to ensure the timely expenditure of program funds.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Education developed monitoring guidelines for staff conducting site visits to McKinney Act grantees and has increased the number of such visits.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Education should develop specific guidelines, conduct regular on-site visits, and require financial audits for all their McKinney Act programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: SNAPS issued memorandum regarding improved monitoring policy and procedures for its field offices and PHAs to follow for the Sec. 8 Mod. Rehab. SRO program.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Education should develop specific guidelines, conduct regular on-site visits, and require financial audits for all their McKinney Act programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HHS has taken four actions to increase monitoring: (1) required annual reports of states; (2) met with states to instruct them on requirements for reporting more detailed program information; (3) instituted monthly meetings with HUD to share information on McKinney Act programs; and (4) established a policy to conduct monitoring visits to states, beginning June 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health and Human Services should determine whether it is appropriate to increase the level of monitoring for the two HHS McKinney Act block grant programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A contract evaluation report was completed and evaluation guidelines were developed that will help assistance providers develop, document, and report consistent and comprehensive program data that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. The Department sent a copy of the guidelines to Congress and GAO in April 1995.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and the Director, FEMA, should evaluate the effectiveness of all their McKinney Act programs to assess whether they are working as intended and to identify needed changes. The Secretaries and the Director, FEMA, should also develop evaluation guidelines to help assistance providers develop, document, and report consistent and comprehensive program data that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Education

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HUD has contracted for evaluations of three of its four McKinney Act programs. The fourth program, SRO, has been reviewed by HUD Office of the Inspector General and is currently being evaluated by GAO, code 385289.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and the Director, FEMA, should evaluate the effectiveness of all their McKinney Act programs to assess whether they are working as intended and to identify needed changes. The Secretaries and the Director, FEMA, should also develop evaluation guidelines to help assistance providers develop, document, and report consistent and comprehensive program data that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Housing and Urban Development

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: HHS has initiated effectiveness evaluations of its McKinney Act programs that are not administered as block grants to states. HHS maintains that program evaluation is a state responsibility for its McKinney Act block grant programs.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and the Director, FEMA, should evaluate the effectiveness of all their McKinney Act programs to assess whether they are working as intended and to identify needed changes. The Secretaries and the Director, FEMA, should also develop evaluation guidelines to help assistance providers develop, document, and report consistent and comprehensive program data that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Labor has guidelines in place for its two McKinney Act programs to help grantees develop, document, and report program evaluation data. Initial effectiveness evaluations of both programs have been completed, and additional follow-up evaluations are planned.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and the Director, FEMA, should evaluate the effectiveness of all their McKinney Act programs to assess whether they are working as intended and to identify needed changes. The Secretaries and the Director, FEMA, should also develop evaluation guidelines to help assistance providers develop, document, and report consistent and comprehensive program data that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Labor

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: FEMA provided the Office of Management and Budget with an evaluation of its Emergency Food and Shelter program on December 10, 1990, and the EFS Board completed a survey of participant local boards in April 1992. Guidelines for the collection of program evaluation data are to be issued by April 30, 1992.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and the Director, FEMA, should evaluate the effectiveness of all their McKinney Act programs to assess whether they are working as intended and to identify needed changes. The Secretaries and the Director, FEMA, should also develop evaluation guidelines to help assistance providers develop, document, and report consistent and comprehensive program data that can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs.

    Agency Affected: Federal Emergency Management Agency

 

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