Poor Management by the Office of Refugee Resettlement in Awarding a Grant to Human Resources Development Associates

HRD-82-44: Published: Feb 25, 1982. Publicly Released: Mar 8, 1982.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the grant review and award procedures used by the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Particular interest was expressed in an award to Human Resources Development Associates (HRDA) for relocating 20 antisocial Cuban entrants from Arkansas to New York.

During 1980, when large numbers of Cubans began arriving unexpectedly into the United States, a State Department task force had the responsibility for coordinating the entry and resettlement process. The task force merged with ORR in June, 1981. Prior to the merger, the task force had advertised for applicants for grants to resettle Cuban and Haitian entrants and had encouraged proposals for resettling entrants with special social services needs. HRDA received the first such grant from ORR after the merger with the task force. GAO found that the grant file contained little documentation concerning the ORR review preceding the grant award and little evidence that ORR made an adequate evaluation of the prospective awardee and the proposed project. In particular, GAO noted that the organizational history of HRDA and its performance capabilities were not properly assessed. From the proposals submitted by HRDA, GAO stated that it was possible to conclude that HRDA was: (1) an ongoing, nonprofit organization operating in a number of States; and (2) experienced in providing needed services to refugees. However, neither was the case. In addition, HRDA was not designated a high-risk organization, although it did not have an approved financial management system and was depending on Federal funding to become operational. ORR officials gave HRDA the opportunity to resolve these open questions. Subsequently, HRDA notified ORR that it did not wish to implement the project, and ORR terminated the grant without any funds being spent.

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