The 2021 High Risk List: Which programs are at high risk of fraud, waste and abuse? (videos)

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7 areas improved; Five got worse; 20 showed little change

Today, we’re releasing our latest high-risk list, which includes 36 areas across the federal government vulnerable to waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement or in need of large-scale transformation. Our list includes 2 new high-risk areas: Emergency Small Business Lending and the Federal Drug Abuse Response. We also saw improvements in 7 areas on our previous list (2019) and removed 1 area from the list. At the same time, 20 areas showed little change and 5 regressed.

Today’s WatchBlog highlights these changes.

What is the high risk list?

Every 2 years, at the start of each new session of Congress, we publish an update of our high risk list, a list of programs and operations at “high risk” because of their vulnerability to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement, or in need of transformation. The federal government has amassed nearly $ 575 billion in financial benefits over the past 15 years by tackling the areas on this list. In fact, we’ve seen $ 225 billion in financial benefits just since our last update in 2019.

Our 2021 high-risk list includes 2 new areas:

  • Emergency loans for small businesses. The Small Business Administration has administered hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and advances to help small businesses recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19[female[feminine. While these loans have helped many small businesses, more attention and monitoring of these funds is needed due to the risk of fraud.
  • National efforts to prevent, respond to and recover from drug abuse. National rates of drug abuse have increased over the past two decades and have had devastating effects. We have addressed several challenges in the federal government’s response to this problem, such as the need for increased leadership and coordination of the national effort, a strategic direction that meets all regulatory requirements, and a need for greater leadership and coordination of the national effort. more effective implementation and monitoring.

What has improved? What got worse?

In addition to adding 2 new areas described above to our list, we saw improvements in 7 areas, with 1 area removed from our list.

we deleted Management of the DOD support infrastructure off our list because the DOD has made significant progress in addressing this issue. Among other things, DOD made more efficient use of leased space, reduced its infrastructure footprint, and reduced core support costs by millions of dollars.

The other 6 areas that have improved are:

However, while some areas have improved, 20 areas have shown little change and 5 have regressed. Here are the 5 areas that have regressed:

Impacts of COVID-19 on the high-risk list

In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic particularly affected several areas on the high-risk list, including:

  • Application of tax laws—Likewise, IRS law enforcement operations and service availability have also been affected by COVID-19; and that fraudulent schemes related to COVID-19 relief payments and tax credits may affect the IRS’s ability to combat identity theft reimbursement fraud.
  • Decennial census—The decennial census provides vital data for the nation, including information that affects the funding of hospitals, schools and roads. While the 2020 census began in January, field data collection efforts were halted for 3 months from mid-March 2020 due to the pandemic. We found that compressing the time to collect data and process responses increased the risk of compromising data quality.
  • Protect public health through enhanced surveillance of medical products —The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects medical products before they are available to the American public. However, inspections of foreign drug manufacturing establishments have declined, in part due to the lack of staff available to carry out the inspections.
  • Improve and Modernize Federal Disability Programs– An estimated 13% of Americans had a disability in 2018. However, federal disability programs are struggling to meet their needs. COVID-19 added to this problem. We reported in November 2020 that the agency had encountered difficulties in processing disability claims due, for example, to a lack of technology available for telecommuting staff and difficulty in planning and conducting hearings by phone.

How are issues removed from our list?

Addressing the issues on our high-risk list can save billions of dollars, improve services to the public, and strengthen government performance and accountability.

We use 5 criteria to determine if an agency has made enough progress on an issue to warrant removal from the high-risk list:

(1) Leadership commitment

(2) Agency capacity

(3) An action plan

(4) Monitoring efforts

(5) Demonstrated progress

Discover the whole High-risk 2021 list to learn more. You can also listen to Chris Mihm, Managing Director of our Strategic Issues Team, discuss some highlights from our latest update by checking out our podcast.


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