Status of Emergency Medical Services Training Program Grant

B-204034: Published: Aug 12, 1981. Publicly Released: Aug 12, 1981.

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GAO was asked to address concerns which arose because the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not award an emergency medical training grant to a hospital subsequent to the expiration of the 45-day withholding period authorized for rescissions under the Impoundment Control Act. The Public Health Service Act gives the Secretary of HHS discretion in determining the amount of any grant or contract and in establishing the funding cycle applicable to the submission and review of applications for grants and contracts. The Emergency Medical Services Training Program (EMST) is funded out of a lump-sum appropriation to HHS for health services. A $56.636 million rescission was proposed by the President from these funds. The funds were withheld pending congressional consideration of the rescission proposal and, 23 days after the proposed rescission, the 45-day withholding period was considered to have expired. The funds were made available to HHS, but the agency did not obligate any of the funds for EMST grants. Congress subsequently passed an act which rescinded $49.776 million from the health services account. The HHS decision not to award a grant during the period when the funds became available and when the rescission act became law was not inconsistent with its customary practice concerning the timing of its grant awards and was consistent with instructions from the Office of Management and Budget. GAO found that the agency did not act improperly by not awarding a grant to the hospital during this period. The agency has applied $3 million of the rescission to the EMST program, which will terminate the EMST program for fiscal year 1981. Since the agency has the discretion to allocate the remaining funds, it did not act improperly in applying the remaining funds to other programs and in not awarding EMST grants after June 5, 1981.

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