Sneak Preview: OIG Faults Treasury’s Instrument for CRF Dollars

Jerry Ashworth
June 11, 2020 at 08:10:00 ET
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(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The Department of the Treasury Office of Inspector General (OIG), in a recent audit, asserted that the agency did not appropriately distribute allocations under the Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) as grants, instead issuing them as direct payments, thereby limiting the ability of the agency and recipients to report on those funds. The Treasury OIG audit was one of several recent federal OIG reports calling for proper oversight of the funds provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (Pub. L. 116-136).

The CARES Act appropriated $150 billion in CRF to make payments to states, tribal governments and qualifying units of local government to cover costs that: (1) are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to COVID-19; (2) were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020; and (3) were incurred between March 1, 2020, and Dec. 30, 2020.

To meet a requirement that CRF payments be distributed within 30 days of enactment of the CARES Act, Treasury provided an electronic form on its website for recipients to submit payment information and supporting documentation, and required recipients to submit completed payment materials before April 18. Local governments, but not states, were required to complete a certification stating that the funds provided will only be used for eligible purposes in accordance with the CARES Act. Upon receiving this information, Treasury disbursed initial CRF payments in the form of direct payments rather than financial assistance (i.e., grants).

“Other than the certifications made by qualifying units of local government, there were no other agreements or terms and conditions established between Treasury and the CRF recipients,” Treasury OIG explained. “Without any terms and conditions in place for receipt of CRF, Treasury has not notified recipients of the [CARES Act] reporting requirements.”

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time here.)

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