The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report this week recommending improved oversight of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, which funds state efforts to help low-income families access crucial child care services. Following the release of the report, Republican Leader of the Education and Labor Committee, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), issued the following statement:
“High-quality early childhood care and education helps provide the foundation for success and achievement in school, the workplace, and life. As policymakers, we have an obligation to ensure the programs funded by taxpayer dollars are being run effectively because the future of many children is on the line.”
GAO conducted this study due to reports by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General showed that the Office of Child Care (OCC) was unable to effectively monitor the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) state program-integrity efforts. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also found that CCDF was susceptible to significant improper payments.
The report discusses various oversight efforts by the GAO, including, but not limited to, the following: 1) states’ CCDF program-integrity efforts, including that all requested information is included within State Plans; 2) and, improper-payment risks and relevant corrective actions in states’ CCDF programs. In the report, GAO made nine recommendations, eight of these recommendations were to the Director of OCC and one to the Assistant Secretary for ACF. These recommendations are as follows:
The Director of OCC should:
• establish internal written policies to effectively implement and document the State Plan review and approval process for future review and approval periods,
• define the informational needs related to the results of program-integrity activities.
• communicate externally to the states its informational needs related to the results of states’ program-integrity activities,
• communicate internally to staff its informational needs related to the results of states’ program-integrity activities,
• develop documented criteria to guide the review of CAPs submitted by states to ensure that proposed corrective actions are aimed at root causes of improper payments and are effectively implemented,
• timely complete its effort to develop established written policies for the CAP follow-up process to ensure that OCC’s oversight and monitoring of CAPs is carried out consistently,
• develop and document criteria to assess the effectiveness of states’ program-integrity control activities,
• evaluate the feasibility of collecting information from the Grantee Internal Controls Self-Assessment Instrument (Self-Assessment Instrument) and Fraud Toolkit, such as during its Monitoring System process, to monitor the effectiveness of states’ program-integrity control activities,
• and, the Assistant Secretary for ACF should ensure that ACF conducts a fraud risk assessment to provide a basis for the documentation and development of an antifraud strategy that describes the CCDF program’s approach to address prioritizing fraud risks identified.
According to GAO, HHS agreed with their recommendations and provided technical comments, which are also incorporated into the GAO report.