GAO Addresses Need for Improved Fraud Risk Management for the USDA's ReConnect Program
Since 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's ReConnect program--which aims to provide broadband to rural areas across the U.S.--has awarded millions of dollars in grants and loans to broadband providers for expanding service in rural areas.
But the USDA hasn't set specific goals for what it wants this program to achieve, or for how it will measure how well the program is working. In addition, protecting the program from fraud is critical to ensure that federal funding is being used to increase rural broadband access. While the USDA maintains an Office of the Chief Risk Officer, officials have not documented this office's responsibilities specifically for fraud risk management. In addition, USDA officials have identified and considered specific fraud risks in ReConnect, but they have not conducted a fraud risk assessment for the program.
In order to protect the program from fraud, establish performance objectives and metrics, and create a framework for making informed decisions about the future, the GAO issued a list of recommendations that includes setting goals distinct from other USDA programs and significantly enhancing fraud risk management policies, procedures, data collection, and other tools.
Read the full report at https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-105265