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  • Writer's pictureJillian Helding

GAO Recommends Key Improvements in Department of Interior Grant Awards Process

The Department of the Interior awarded over $4 billion in competitive grants in fiscal years 2019 through 2021 across nine grant-making bureaus. Recipients of competitive grants include state agencies, nonprofits, and universities, among others. Recipients use the grants for various activities, such as assisting with the recovery of endangered species and creating conservation opportunities for youth.

After a review of the department's grant awards process, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that while it is generally consistent with federal grant regulations, there were several key areas of weakness:

  • Two of three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant programs did not clearly identify criteria and weights in funding announcements.

  • These same programs did not use criteria to evaluate applications.

  • Grant programs across the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and U.S. Geological Survey lacked documentation to support certain award decisions.

Findings like these can have a critical impact on the outcome of monitoring reviews and Single Audits. Ensuring you have a strong oversight program in place is key to identifying these types of weaknesses early. Using tools such as formal Risk Assessments and a Compliance Matrix helps to capture areas for improvement and provides a framework for developing the policies, procedures, and internal controls that safeguard funding and your agency's reputation.

To read the full GAO report, visit:

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