INVESTIGATIONS

The Investigations Section within the OIG is responsible for the detection and investigation of fraud, waste, and abuse within Corporation for National and Community Service programs and operations. Special Agents conduct various criminal, civil, and administrative investigations. Some of our criminal investigations are conducted in conjunction with other federal, state or local law enforcement agencies. Criminal investigations are presented to the U.S. Attorney and, in some cases, the local prosecutor, for criminal prosecution and/or civil recovery.

The Investigations Section also conducts fraud awareness briefings and provides a pamphlet entitled "OIG Investigations and You" which discusses the Corporation for National and Community Service employees rights and responsibilities regarding investigations. Also, See;

The Investigations Section also maintains the Fraud Hotline which can be used to report fraud, waste and abuse involving Corporation for National and Community Service programs and operations.

Closed Investigations

Closed Investigations

AmeriCorps Members Recorded Excessive, Unsupported Service Hours on Timesheets

Closed 7/31/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that a former employee of Regional School Unit 14 (RSU14) - Windham-Raymond Schools, Windham, ME, approved false timesheets for two former AmeriCorps members (members). CNCS-OIG found the members recorded excessive service days on their timesheets, often ranging from 16-18 hours in a day. The RSU14 employee supervising the members was not in a position to witness members serving that many hours in one day and she did not timely review and sign their timesheets. The CNCS-OIG investigation concluded that the hours submitted and approved for the two members were excessive and lacked adequate support.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings and RSU14 exited the two members without Education Awards.  

Case ID 2018-040

AmeriCorps Member Performed Prohibited Religious Activities

Closed 7/31/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps members (members) in the City of Orlando, Orlando Partnership for School Success (O-PASS) AmeriCorps Program, Orlando, FL, submitted false timesheets and displaced staff. The investigation did not substantiate those allegations. However, during its investigation, CNCS-OIG determined one member violated 45 C.F.R. § 2520.65(7), when she performed prohibited religious instruction as part of her AmeriCorps service.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management responded and concurred with CNCS-OIG’s recommendations. CNCS reported that City of Orlando provided additional training to its service sites on prohibited activities and member service activities and the Commission confirmed the hours performing prohibited religious instruction were disallowed and removed from the member’s timesheet.

Case ID 2018-033

AmeriCorps Program Directed an AmeriCorps Member to Perform Staff Work, Results in Disallowed Hours and Additional Training

Closed 7/31/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that Rebuilding Together (RT), New York City, NY, expended grant funds early, drew down grant funds on unfilled AmeriCorps member (member) positions, paid grant funds to RT employees not listed on the grant, and assigned members to serve outside the scope of the grant. The investigation did not substantiate those allegations. However, during its investigation, CNCS-OIG found RT violated 45 C.F.R. § 2540.100(f) (“Nondisplacement”) when a member was directed to perform the work of paid staff for a week. Another member reported significant idle time due to lack of service opportunities. The investigation also found that RT staff violated the grant terms and conditions when it failed to notify CNCS and CNCS-OIG of a former member who submitted fraudulent timesheets. RT staff disallowed the false hours, terminated the member, and adjusted its draw downs accordingly.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management responded and reviewed timesheets and activity logs and found one eight-hour instance when the member engaged in staff work (website upgrades). RT disallowed the entire eight hours, which did not affect the members’ eligibility for his Education Award. RT program staff received training on staff displacement and reporting fraud to CNCS-OIG.

Case ID 2018-009

AmeriCorps Grantee Overpaid Program Staff Resulting in Disallowed Costs

Closed 7/31/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that staff at the Salvation Army, Anchorage, AK, Safe Senior AmeriCorps Program (SSAP) mismanaged the AmeriCorps program and pressured AmeriCorps members (members) to add unearned service hours to their timesheets. The investigation did not substantiate those allegations.  However, during its investigation, CNCS-OIG determined one employee failed to document all of her time spent on the SSAP Planning Grant and another employee was given a year’s salary, but only worked at Salvation Army on the SSAP for approximately nine months.  

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management responded and partially concurred with CNCS-OIG’s recommendations.  CNCS did not agree that one employee failed to properly document her time spent on the SSAP Planning Grant, but issued a debt for a portion of her salary that was over the approved budget line item.  CNCS disagreed that Salvation Army overpaid the other employee a year’s salary when the employee only worked on the program for nine months because she worked more hours than planned and the Salvation Army did not exceed the approved budget limits for her salary.  CNCS confirmed the Alaska Commission updated its Program Director’s Manual that now contains satisfactory requirements for staff timekeeping.

Case ID 2018-006

AmeriCorps Grantee Failed to Conduct Compliant National Service Criminal History Checks

Closed 7/24/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps members (members) in the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau (Youth Bureau), Oswego, NY, AmeriCorps Program submitted false timesheets.  The investigation did not substantiate that allegation.  However, during its investigation, CNCS-OIG identified six Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal History Checks (CHCs) that were initiated after the members started service.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings that the Youth Bureau’s FBI CHCs were non-compliant because they were initiated late and disallowed nominal costs pursuant to the sanctions matrix.  

Case ID 2018-032

AmeriCorps VISTA Members Tasked with Service Outside the Scope of the Grant and Duties Otherwise Performed by Employees

Closed 7/24/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that SEEDS, Traverse City, MI, improperly required AmeriCorps VISTAs (VISTAs) to engage in direct service outside the scope of the grant and displaced staff.  The investigation revealed SEEDS violated 45 C.F.R. § 2556.150 when its staff directed and assigned three VISTAs to perform services or duties that would otherwise be performed by employed workers or other volunteers.  In addition, SEEDS did not have adequate policies or practices to prevent VISTAs from conducting direct service.  The investigation found no evidence to support the allegation of staff displacement.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS responded that the CNCS Michigan State Office provided training to SEEDS staff, and conducted a visit to SEEDS to reinforce the training. Additionally, CNCS program officers conducted a site supervisor training in April 2019, which covered multiple aspects of VISTA project and member management, including allowable indirect capacity building activities vs. non-allowable direct service activities.

Case ID 2018-026

AmeriCorps Grantee Overcharges Grant for Staff Salary Payments

Closed 7/24/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that Sunset Park Health Council (Sunset Park), New York City, NY, operated two separate AmeriCorps programs to make a profit from grant funding and utilized AmeriCorps members (members) to perform personal errands for staff.

The investigation found no evidence to support the allegations that Sunset Park profited from AmeriCorps grants or members performed service outside the scope of the grant.  The investigation did find a Sunset Park employee improperly charged 100 percent of her time and effort to the AmeriCorps grant, even though she spent one-third of her time on non-AmeriCorps programs.  CNCS-OIG recommended that CNCS disallow the costs associated with the inaccurate salary charges.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS agreed with CNCS-OIG regarding the recommendation to disallow salary charges for the employee and initiated action to recover those funds.

Case ID 2018-010

Our Lady of Lourdes Agrees to Pay Over $1.1M to Resolve Claims It Failed to Perform Background Checks, Fraudulently Billed U.S. for Community Service Grants

PHILADELPHIA and CAMDEN – United States Attorneys William M. McSwain for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Craig Carpenito for the District of New Jersey jointly announced that Our Lady of Lourdes Health Foundation and two related Our Lady of Lourdes companies have agreed to pay $1,143,881.19 to resolve claims arising from Lourdes’ administration of community service grants funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Madison County Woman Agrees to Pay Damages for Submitting False Claims to AmeriCorps Program

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Madison County woman has agreed to resolve civil allegations that she violated the False Claims Act, a federal law that prohibits the submission of false or fraudulent claims, agreeing to pay the federal government, after admitting that she falsified timesheets that caused her to wrongfully receive federal funds from the AmeriCorps Program.

AmeriCorps VISTA Grantee Failed to Conduct a Compliant National Service Criminal History Check

Closed 6/14/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps VISTA members (VISTA) serving in the Hunger Free America (HFA), New York City, NY, AmeriCorps VISTA program recorded false hours and that HFA staff failed to accurately allocate their time spent on the program.

The investigation found no evidence to support these allegations. However, investigators
determined HFA failed to conduct a compliant National Service Criminal History Check (CHC) on one employee because the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) check was conducted late and not all states reported results. This violated 45 C.F.R. § 2540.204.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings that HFA’s search of the NSOPW was non-compliant due to the NSOPW check being late and incomplete and ultimately disallowed nominal costs pursuant to the sanctions matrix.

Case ID 2018-013

CNCS Employee Denied Leave Under Family Medical Leave Act

Closed 4/2/2019

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Office of Inspector General (CNCSOIG) investigated an allegation that CNCS improperly denied leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to one of its employees. The investigation revealed that CNCS – Office of Human Capital inaccurately informed the employee’s supervisor that the employee was not eligible for FMLA. The investigation found the employee was in fact eligible for leave under the FMLA based on the employee’s prior creditable Federal service.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with the CNCS‐OIG’s finding. CNCS‐OHC indicated it has subsequently conducted training regarding approval of FMLA and changed its processes to ensure other employees with prior Federal service are not improperly denied leave under FMLA.

Case ID: 2018‐008

AmeriCorps Grantee Failed to Conduct a Compliant National Service Criminal History Check

Closed 1/14/19

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps members (members) serving in the Impact America (IA), Birmingham, AL, AmeriCorps program were instructed to alter their service activities on their timesheets, received additional salary payments from IA, and acted as supervisors of other members.  The investigation found no evidence to support these allegations.  However, investigators determined IA failed to conduct a compliant National Service Criminal History Check (CHC) on one member because the member’s name was misspelled in the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) search.  This violated 45 C.F.R. § 2540.203.

Additional allegations were raised that members were sexually harassed by an IA executive.  Consistent with CNCS policy, after an initial site visit, CNCS-OIG referred the sexual harassment allegations to CNCS AmeriCorps State and National (ASN) for resolution.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s findings that IA’s search of the NSOPW was noncompliant due to the misspelling of the member’s name and ultimately disallowed nominal costs pursuant to the sanctions matrix.

Regarding the sexual harassment allegations, CNCS related to us that the individual accused of harassment was no longer employed by IA, a new Human Resources Director was hired, and new policies were implemented.  In addition, ASN informed the alleged victim of sexual harassment of their rights to file a case with the CNCS EEO Office or with their state.  Therefore, CNCS considers the matter closed.

Case ID 2018-029

AmeriCorps VISTA Members Tasked with Service Outside the Scope of the Grant

Closed 12/20/18

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps VISTA members (VISTA) serving at Community Students Learning Center (CSLC), Lexington, MS, performed service outside the scope of the grant.

The investigation found CSLC directed VISTAs to conduct various activities outside the scope of the grant, such as tutoring and setting up for CSLC fundraisers, and CSLC staff did not fully understand what types of service activities VISTAs could and could not perform.

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS responded that it prioritizes training for grantees on allowable VISTA service, but since CSLC ended its VISTA project, CNCS did not agree to take any action in this case.

Case ID 2018-019

AmeriCorps Member Performing Prohibited Religious Activities Leads to Removal of Service Site

Closed 12/20/18

CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps members (member) serving in the Teach for America (TFA), New York, NY, AmeriCorps program at the El Centro Incorporated, Academy for Children (El Centro), Kansas City, MO, service site were directed to perform prohibited religious activities.

The investigation confirmed that one member regularly performed a prohibited religious activity by leading a religious prayer to the students in the classroom three times a day during service hours, a violation of 42 U.S.C. § 12584a(a)(7).

Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s finding that a TFA member performed a prohibited activity by leading a religious prayer with students and took the following actions: (1) TFA removed El Centro as a service site for the 2018 grant year; (2) TFA senior staff provided additional training on prohibited activities to regional staff; (3) TFA issued guidance to regional staff on their responsibilities to train site supervisors on prohibited activities; and (4) TFA senior staff decided to review any member placements at religious schools in the future to ensure that prohibited activities would not be assigned.

Case ID 2018-018

AmeriCorps Grantee Failed to Conduct a Compliant National Service Criminal History Check

Closed 12/17/18
 
CNCS-OIG investigated allegations that AmeriCorps members serving in the St. Bernard Project (SBP), New York, NY, AmeriCorps program displaced the work of paid staff, served outside the scope of the grant, and were not reimbursed for travel expenses.
 
The investigation found no evidence to support the allegations but did find that SBP failed to conduct a compliant National Service Criminal History Check (CHC) on one former member, a violation of 45 C.F.R. § 2540.203.  The check was noncompliant because the search of the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) misspelled the former member’s first name.
 
Agency/Administrative Actions

CNCS management concurred with CNCS-OIG’s finding that SBP failed to conduct a compliant CHC on the former member; however, CNCS initially determined not to impose a financial consequence, asserting that, as long as the last name is correct, and the first name is similar to the actual name, the search is generally sufficient to ascertain whether the person is a registered sex offender.
 
On January 11, 2019, CNCS revised its decision and elected to impose a financial consequence on SBP for the noncompliant CHC.

Case ID 2018-012