WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is calling for answers from government agencies on what actions they will take to improve oversight on federal grants given to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations. Agencies award over $600 billion annually in federal grants, but a recent McCaskill-requested report found that some agencies are not following through on oversight requirements.
“With hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars awarded every year in federal grants, it’s absolutely essential that agencies make every effort to ensure funds aren’t being abused or wasted,” said McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor. “It’s clear that’s not happening. Agencies are failing to conduct thorough oversight over many grant recipients—and that’s unacceptable.”
Grant recipients that spend $750,000 or more in federal awards are required to submit an audit each fiscal year to the overseeing agency. The audit assesses whether or not grant money is being used for intended purposes and includes recommendations for how grant recipients should fix issues identified in the audit. A McCaskill-requested Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that some agencies do not ensure that audits are conducted and fail to follow through with grant recipients about problems identified by the audits. In order to make sure grant recipients are not wasting taxpayer dollars, GAO recommended that agencies institute new policies and procedures to ensure that grant recipients submit timely audits and follow up on any recommendations. In letters to the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation, McCaskill requested details on how these agencies “plan to implement recommendations made by GAO and effectively oversee federal grant awards.”
Since her time as Missouri State Auditor, McCaskill has been a leading voice in Missouri and Washington for cutting wasteful government spending. Earlier this year, McCaskill-backed bipartisan legislation to crack down on misuse of federal agency travel and purchase cards spending passed the Senate. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has unanimously approved two of her bills with Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana to eliminate wasteful spending at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. McCaskill has also expanded whistleblower protections to federal grantees, subgrantees, and others who the federal government directly or indirectly hires through bipartisan bills that have been signed into law. During her first term in the Senate, McCaskill waged a successful six-year effort to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting.
Read McCaskill’s letters to the heads of the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation HERE.