Management Alert: Unrealistic Transformation Plan Unnecessarily Jeopardizes CNCS Mission

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Management Alert: Unrealistic Transformation Plan Unnecessarily Jeopardizes CNCS Mission

The Office of Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS or the Corporation) issued a Management Alert regarding serious risks arising from CNCS’s self-imposed rapid timeline to reorganize the Corporation’s current structure and alter its core grantmaking and grant management business practices.  The reorganization to a regional structure will involve at least 40 percent turnover in grant and program staff over the next 13 months.  Executing this reorganization while simultaneously attempting much-needed reforms to CNCS’s core business infrastructure—developing information technology sufficient to support grant management; preparing and testing an effective grant risk model and aligned cost-effective monitoring activities; achieving reliable financial management, accounting and reporting; and establishing effective cybersecurity—overestimates the Corporation’s capacities, in light of its resource limitations and lack of success in prior reform attempts.

Despite the Corporation’s efforts, it has been unable to achieve these improvements over the last several years, without the added stress of a major structural overhaul.  The decision to undertake these critical infrastructure upgrades while simultaneously regionalizing grantmaking, grant management, and grant administration is unrealistic, exceeds the Corporation’s capabilities and creates a substantial risk that CNCS will not be able to achieve its mission of supporting national service.

To promote the Plan’s ultimate success and provide a suitable platform for effective, risk-based grant management and reliable financial management and reporting, we strongly recommend that CNCS delay the reorganization to a regional structure until it resolves its core infrastructure deficiencies.  CNCS disagrees with our assessment, asserts that it can manage all of the associated risks successfully and intends to proceed with the reorganization on its original schedule.