GAO Blasts Federal Management of Community Services Block Grant

Wednesday, September 13, 2006 10:29 pm
August, 2006
Federal investigators have blasted the agency that oversees the Community Services Block Grant program, saying it lacks "effective policies, procedures and controls" for ensuring that the program is properly monitored.

In an investigation requested by Congress, the Government Accountability Office last week concluded that there are major flaws in the federal oversight provided for CSBG, which is a major source of funding for Community Action Agencies and the anti-poverty programs they administer.

The problems lie not with the CSBG program itself, but in its administration by the Office of Community Services, according to the GAO report.

OCS "did not routinely collect key information, such as results of state monitoring reports, or systematically use available information, such as state performance data, to assess the states` CSBG management risks and target monitoring efforts to states with the highest risks," GAO said.

The findings comes as CSBG is awaiting reauthorization and as program advocates are struggling against the Bush administration`s repeated calls for the program`s demise. Immediately upon the report`s issuance, House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.) said he may hold hearings on the findings before moving forward on the CSBG reauthorization.

"It is troubling to find strong potential for fraud and abuse under the current accountability structure--or the lack of an accountability structure, more accurately," McKeon said.

Congressional Oversight

Saying he was grateful for the light GAO has shed on the program`s flaws, McKeon said Congress "simply cannot allow costly weaknesses in accountab[..]

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