Community Development:

Weak Management Controls Compromise Integrity of Four HUD Grant Programs

T-RCED-99-175: Published: Apr 29, 1999. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 1999.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) management controls over four block grant programs, focusing on whether: (1) HUD's monitoring of grantees under the Grants Management System is adequate; and (2) the Integrated Disbursement and Information Systems (IDIS) provides the data HUD needs to accurately assess grantees' performance.

GAO noted that: (1) while the Grants Management System provides a logical, structured approach to managing the four block grant programs, HUD's implementation of the system--including on-site monitoring of grantees and IDIS--does not ensure that the programs' objectives are being met and that grantees are managing their funds appropriately; (2) consequently, GAO's review and those by HUD's Inspector General have identified significant problems that call into question the integrity of the four block grant programs; (3) with respect to monitoring, the five field offices GAO visited (accounting for about 20 percent of all block grant funds in fiscal year 1998, or $1.18 billion) conduct on-site monitoring infrequently; (4) on-site monitoring seldom targets the grantees that receive the poorest evaluations from the field offices compared with other grantees, and this monitoring is not uniform or comprehensive because the field offices lack specific guidance; (5) for its part, IDIS does not provide the information the Department needs to accurately assess grantees' performance and thus does not compensate for the shortcomings in monitoring; (6) because of major design flaws, the information system makes the process for establishing and maintaining accounts difficult and provides ample opportunity for major problems with entering data, does not allow such problems to be corrected easily, cannot track the program income from the revolving funds that grantees establish, does not provide timely and accurate information, and has difficulty producing reports; and (7) compounding these problems, the system's security controls are weak and therefore do not ensure that the system is safe from fraud and abuse.

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