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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.
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
The Corporation for National and Community Service (the Corporation or CNCS) has made significant progress in addressing the information security and privacy weaknesses identified in last year’s Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA) evaluation, resolving eight of 17 findings from FY 2015 and closing 67 of 90 recommendations open from prior years. CNCS has improved and updated its policies and procedures for key security program areas, e.g., information security continuous monitoring (ISCM), risk management and Plan of Action and Milestones (POA&M) management. It has also entered into new service level agreements with the information technology (IT) contractor that manages the Corporation’s desktops, servers and network infrastructure. These improvements led evaluators to reduce the severity of two previous program weaknesses from Significant Deficiencies to Control Deficiencies. Evaluators determined that the Corporation implemented improvements to close all seven recommendations related to privacy controls for protection of personally identifiable information (PII).
In April 2016, the Office of Inspector General, Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS-OIG) reported that the National Association of Community Health Clinics (NACHC), an AmeriCorps grantee, allowed a few AmeriCorps members serving at one of its subgrantees, the Institute for Family Health (IFH), to provide emotional support to women during abortion procedures. The Federal statute authorizing the AmeriCorps Program expressly forbids the use of AmeriCorps resources to provide abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services.
Our investigation focused on the conduct of the grantee, subgrantee and AmeriCorps members. This report discusses points at which the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS or the Corporation) could have, but did not, reduce, prevent or detect the prohibited activities that occurred. These observations concerning CNCS do not absolve NACHC of its responsibility for violating the law or mitigate its conduct. But they do suggest actions that are long overdue at CNCS to detect any similar activities and avert future violations.
This report identifies management and performance challenges facing the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS or the Corporation). We selected these challenges by considering past and ongoing audit, review and investigative work, as well as discussions with CNCS management regarding existing vulnerabilities. We also considered new activities that could pose challenges because of their breadth and complexity.
The FY 2017 management challenges are:
1. Strengthening Grant Oversight and Monitoring
2. Protecting the Communities We Serve with Thorough Criminal History Checks and Prevention Measures
3. Reducing Improper Payments
4. Securing Information Systems and Modernizing Information Technology
5. Rethinking the Fundamentals to Support National Service
House of Representatives
Education and the Workforce Committee
Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training
Hearing – “Demanding Accountability at the Corporation for National and Community Service”
Inspector General Deborah Jeffrey testifies before the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training.
Here is the link Deborah Jeffrey Testimony
The Cybersecurity Act of 2015, Sec 406 requires Inspectors General of agencies with covered systems to submit to the appropriate committees of jurisdiction in the Senate and the House of Representatives a report on agency policies, practices, and controls related to logical access and security management. The statute also calls for a determination whether the logical access policies and practices meet appropriate standards.
Based on the information that the Corporation provided, we conclude that its policies and practices for logical access to covered systems generally reflect appropriate standards, though there remain opportunities to strengthen these protections. We did not verify or test the effectiveness of CNCS’s access controls in preventing incursions by unauthorized users.
Additional information bearing on security measures will be addressed in our forthcoming 2016 FISMA evaluation report.
Between 2013 and 2015, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), Bethesda, MD, allowed a few AmeriCorps members to provide emotional support (doula care) to women during abortion procedures at three New York City clinics operated by the Institute for Family Health (IFH), a subgrantee. The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (the Serve America Act), the Federal statute authorizing the AmeriCorps program expressly prohibits the use of AmeriCorps resources to “provid[e] abortion services or referrals for receipt of such services.” See 42 U.S.C. §12584a(a)(9). The same prohibition appears in the regulations governing the AmeriCorps program. See 45 C.F.R. §2520.65(a)(10). NACHC is one of AmeriCorps’ largest grantees, receiving $ 30 million over the last five years. The organization also receives support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is aware of this investigation. Major AmeriCorps Grantee Allowed Members to Provide Abortion-Related Services Prohibited by Law; CNCS Management Undertakes Robust Actions in Response.
Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) has agreed to pay $4.08 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that it submitted false claims to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) concerning AmeriCorps state and national grants, the Justice Department announced today. MCCCD is the entity responsible for operating community colleges in Maricopa County, Arizona, and is based in Phoenix
The information security and privacy program at the Corporation for National and Community Service (Corporation) does not meet minimum standards and needs substantial improvement across the board. Kearney & Company, P.C. (Kearney), under the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG) supervision, uncovered weaknesses in 11 of the 12 areas tested. The controls were found to be ineffective in seven of these areas, and in four of them—Continuous Monitoring, Risk Management, Plans of Action & Milestones and Privacy—the defects were severe enough to constitute a significant deficiency, requiring immediate correction and attention by agency leadership.
Mr. Richard Parks misused more than $95,000 in Federal program funds by enrolling ineligible individuals in AmeriCorps, and falsifying member time sheets while serving as the AmeriCorps Program Director at the Salt Lake County Resource and Development Division, Salt Lake, UT. Mr. Parks pled guilty to Wire Fraud and Theft of Federal Funds in Federal District Court, Salt Lake City, UT, and in September 2013, that court sentenced Park to 36 months’ probation and ordered him to make restitution to the government in the amount of $13,907.
Ms. Welithia Fortune embezzled $31,805.39 from an AmeriCorps program run by the Lee County School District of Bishopville, South Carolina, by diverting funds to her own personal checking account while serving there as an Administrative Assistant. Ms. Fortune pled guilty to the theft and was sentenced in February 2013 by the Lee County Circuit Court to six years’ incarceration (suspended), five years’ probation, and ordered to make restitution to the government in the amount of $31,805.39, plus fees and court costs. Ms. Fortune has since been debarred from doing business with the Federal government for a period of three years.
Ms. Chante Sweet, Executive Director of the Miami AmeriCorps Community Emergency Support (ACES) Program in Miami, Florida, conspired with ACES staff members Ms. Ashley Rolle and Ms. Simone West to steal $31,632.90 in federal program funds. Ms. Sweet enrolled Ms. West and Ms. Rolle in the AmeriCorps program, and in return received half of their living allowances.
The case went to trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and Ms. Sweet was found guilty of Theft of Federal Program Funds and sentenced to three years’ probation, 180 days’ home detention with electronic monitoring, and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and make restitution to the government in the amount of $21,932. Ms. Rolle and Ms. West were also found guilty and sentenced to 18 months’ probation, and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service and make restitution to the government in amounts of $4,801 from Ms. Rolle, and $4,899.90 from Ms. West.
In August 2013, Ms. Rolle, Ms. West and Ms. Sweet were all debarred by the Corporation’s Suspension and Debarment Official from doing business with the Federal Government for a period of three years.
Review of the system of internal safeguards and management procedures for the investigative functions of the Office oflnspector General (OIG) for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in effect during the period May 1, 2011, through May 18, 2012. Our review was conducted in conformity with the Quality Standards for Investigations and the Quality Assessment Review Guidelines for Investigative Operations of Federal Offices of Inspector General established by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) and the Attorney General's Guidelines for Office oflnspectors General with Statutory Law Enforcement Authority, as applicable.
Former AmeriCorps Commission Chairman Barred from Doing Business with the Federal Government
Washington, DC – Muasau Tofili, former Chairman of the Board of the American Samoa Special Services Commission (Commission), has been debarred from doing business with the Federal government for one year. Mr Tofili, who in September of 2012 became an Associate Judge of the High Court of American Samoa, pocketed more than $2,400 by overcharging the government for hotel expenses. The Commission was funded with taxpayer dollars by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
WASHINGTON, DC -- Atlantic Human Resources, Inc. (AHR), a non-profit organization in Atlantic City, New Jersey, cannot account for $1.4 million in costs charged against two grants from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), according to the agency’s Office of Inspector General. Among the more egregious findings of a recently released audit report, AHR double-billed the government for office services, claimed credits for travel reimbursements and meals that it did not provide to volunteers, failed to ensure that participants were eligible for means-tested benefits, and issued worthless checks to volunteers with incomes near the poverty level. More than 70 percent of the costs charged to the grants were improper or unsupported.