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FEMA Miscalculation Costs Taxpayers $12 Million

October 1, 2014 Comments off

FEMA Miscalculation Costs Taxpayers $12 Million (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials did not follow their own disaster relief guidelines in response to 2008 flooding in Cedar Rapids, IA, resulting in a loss to taxpayers of more than $12 million, according to a new report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Department of Homeland Security.

OIG auditors determined that officials did not correctly follow FEMA’s “50 Percent Rule” in determining that four flood-damaged structures in Cedar Rapids be replaced, rather than repaired. The rule states that Federal funds can be used to replace damaged structures only when the cost of repairs meets or exceeds 50 percent of the repair costs. The OIG found that none of the four structures – the Main Library, two animal control facilities and a park maintenance shop – met the 50 percent threshold and could have been repaired for a total of $8.57 million. FEMA granted the city more than $20.6 million to replace the buildings.

“FEMA needs to improve and refine its calculations in regard to repairing or replacing damaged facilities,” said Inspector General John Roth. “We have made several recommendations that will assist FEMA in that process and hopefully prevent misspending on disaster relief.”

+ Full Report (PDF)

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USPS OIG — Mail Innovations

September 30, 2014 Comments off

Mail Innovations
Source: U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General

Despite the sharp increase in digital communications in recent years, mail still elicits a strong connection with recipients. Past work by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) reveals that mail is a critical piece of an omnichannel strategy, which gives consumers a seamless and meaningful experience across a variety of media channels and provides marketers with a rich source of useful information. Now, more than ever, advertising campaigns must compete for recipients’ attention, as people are exposed to hundreds, if not thousands of advertisements on a daily basis. To give consumers of all ages advertising messages that are relevant, interesting, and dynamic, mailers can incorporate a number of innovations into their mailpieces. These innovations can allow the marketing message to stand out, either by providing additional content in an easily accessible digital space, incorporating handy electronics into the mailpiece, or using unique materials and design to capture the reader’s attention.

This paper provides an overview of ten mail innovations that range from commonly used and well-known tools to some that are still emerging, and even one that is still in the research and development phase. The OIG interviewed companies that create and support these innovations to learn more about them and what they can do to strengthen a mail campaign. These innovations can be more effective engaging customers and garnering a positive response, either in terms of recipient feedback or sales metrics.

HHS OIG — State Standards For Access To To Care In Medicaid Managed Care

September 29, 2014 Comments off

State Standards For Access To To Care In Medicaid Managed Care
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
Examining access to care takes on heightened importance as enrollment grows in Medicaid managed care programs. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, States can opt to expand Medicaid eligibility, and even States that have not expanded eligibility have seen increases in enrollment. Most States provide some of their Medicaid services-if not all of them-through managed care. OIG received a congressional request to evaluate the adequacy of access to care for enrollees in Medicaid managed care. This report describes the standards that States establish for access to care in their Medicaid managed care programs and how States determine compliance with these standards. A companion report determines the extent to which providers offer appointments to enrollees and the timeliness of these appointments.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
We surveyed State Medicaid agency officials in the 33 States with comprehensive, “full risk” Medicaid managed care and collected documentation from each State on its standards for access to care. We also conducted structured interviews with external quality review organizations and CMS.

WHAT WE FOUND
State standards for access to care vary widely. For example, standards range from requiring 1 primary care provider for every 100 enrollees to 1 primary care provider for every 2,500 enrollees. Additionally, standards are often not specific to certain types of providers or to areas of the State. States have different strategies to assess compliance with access standards, but they do not commonly use what are called “direct tests,” such as making calls to providers. Further, most States did not identify any violations of their access standards over a 5 year period. The States that found the most violations were those that conducted direct tests of compliance. Among the States that identified violations, most relied on corrective action plans to address the violations; six imposed sanctions. Finally, our review found that CMS provides limited oversight of State access standards.

WHAT WE RECOMMEND
We recommend that CMS (1) strengthen its oversight of State standards and ensure that States develop standards for key providers, (2) strengthen its oversight of States’ methods to assess plan compliance and ensure that States conduct direct tests of access standards, (3) improve States’ efforts to identify and address violations of access standards, and (4) provide technical assistance and share effective practices. CMS concurred with all four of our recommendations.

VA OIG — Review of the Veterans Health Administration’s Use of Reverse Auction Acquisitions

September 29, 2014 Comments off

Review of the Veterans Health Administration’s Use of Reverse Auction Acquisition (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans, Office of Inspector General

The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review of the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) use of commercial reverse auctions to procure products and services. The review determined that the methodology used to calculate and report savings by using reverse auctions greatly overstated any actual savings and did not comply with VHA’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). VHA’s mandatory requirement to use reverse auctions violated VA’s policy for using priority sources such as FSS contracts. Over 93 percent of the contract files reviewed did not contain proper documentation to validate the use of reverse auctions in accordance with VHA’s SOP. The review also determined that contracting officials run the risk of purchasing gray market items by using reverse auctions.

See also: Administrative Investigation, Conduct Prejudicial to the Government and Interference of a VA Official for the Financial Benefit of a Contractor, Veterans Health Administration, Procurement & Logistics Office, Washington, DC (PDF)

DHS OIG — DHS Does Not Adequately Manage or Have Enforcement Authority Over Its Components’ Vehicle Fleet Operations

September 25, 2014 Comments off

DHS Does Not Adequately Manage or Have Enforcement Authority Over Its Components’ Vehicle Fleet Operations (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General

In fiscal year 2012, Federal agency fleets consisted of more than 650,000 motor vehicles around the world. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had the second largest civilian motor vehicle fleet in the Federal Government, owning or leasing about 56,000 vehicles, with reported annual operating costs of about $534 million. Our audit objective was to determine whether, for fiscal year 2012, DHS met requirements to rightͲsize its motor vehicle fleet composition, eliminate underused vehicles, and acquire vehicles that reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions.

DHS does not adequately manage or have the enforcement authority over its components’ fleet operations to ensure that its motor vehicle fleet composition is rightͲ sized. Each DHS component manages its own vehicle fleet, making it difficult for the DHS Fleet Manager to provide adequate oversight and ensure compliance with Federal laws, regulations, policies, and directives. Although the Department oversees and approves the components’ leasing of vehicles, it does not oversee and approve the acquisition of componentͲowned vehicles. In fiscal year 2012, not all acquisitions were alternative fuel vehicles, as required by DHS policy.

The Department does not have a centralized fleet management information system. For reporting on its motor vehicle fleet inventory, DHS must rely on multiple information systems that contain inaccurate and incomplete vehicle data from the components. In fiscal year 2012, all of the component vehicle fleets we reviewed included underused vehicles, but DHS did not ensure the components justified retaining the vehicles or removed them from their fleets. In that fiscal year, we estimate that operating these underused vehicles cost between $35.3 million and $48.6 million. For these reasons, DHS cannot ensure its vehicle fleet composition is cost efficient, complies with departmental requirements, and has the correct number of motor vehicles to accomplish its mission.

New From the GAO

September 24, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Special Education: Improved Performance Measures Could Enhance Oversight Of Dispute Resolution. GAO-14-390, August 25.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-390
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665433.pdf

2. Inspectors General: DHS OIG’s Structure, Policies, and Procedures Are Consistent with Standards, but Areas for Improvement Exist. GAO-14-726, September 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-726
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666088.pdf

3. International Labor Grants: DOL’s Use of Financial and Performance Monitoring Tools Needs to Be Strengthened. GAO-14-832, September 24.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-832
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666085.pdf

HHS OIG — Health Insurance Marketplaces Generally Protected Personally Identifiable Information but Could Improve Certain Information Security Controls

September 24, 2014 Comments off

Health Insurance Marketplaces Generally Protected Personally Identifiable Information but Could Improve Certain Information Security Controls
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

This summary report provides an overview of the results of three reviews of the security of certain information technology at the Federal, Kentucky, and New Mexico Health Insurance Marketplaces. These reviews generally examined whether information security controls were implemented in accordance with relevant Federal requirements and guidelines and whether vulnerabilities identified by prior assessments were remediated in a timely manner.

Although CMS had implemented controls to secure Healthcare.gov and consumer personally identifiable information (PII) on the Federal Marketplace, we identified areas for improvement in its information security controls. Kentucky had sufficiently protected PII on its Marketplace Web sites and databases in accordance with Federal requirements. However, opportunities to improve the Kentucky Marketplace’s database access and information security controls remain. Although New Mexico management had implemented security controls, policies, and procedures to prevent vulnerabilities in its Web site, database, and supporting information systems, its information technology policies and procedures did not always conform to Federal requirements to secure sensitive information stored and processed by the New Mexico Marketplace.

We recommended that the Marketplaces’ management address the findings identified in its reports.

On September 4, 2014, CMS issued a statement regarding an intrusion on a server that supports testing of Healthcare.gov but does not contain consumer personal information. The intrusion occurred after the period of our audit and involved technology outside our audit scope.

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