Date: May 17, 2019
WASHINGTON – To ensure the responsible use of the $6 billion awarded in annual grants by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and increase accountability and transparency, the Department has entered into an agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to modernize DOI’s financial assistance programs through HHS’s GrantSolutions platform.
Dedicated to helping its partners manage grants and cooperative agreements throughout the life cycle of the allocation, GrantSolutions will put in place new systems and processes to track and manage funds, standardize procedures, and increase oversight, transparency, accountability and efficiencies in financial assistance functions across all of its bureaus – from project conception to award closeout.
“This new program is a big step in the right direction to more effectively manage our fiscal obligations,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “Audits looking back to 2013 uncovered more than $110 million in grant funds that were questionably or improperly managed. Partnering with this program enables us to improve efficiencies, disburse federal assistance in a timely manner, and foster greater accountability within DOI for the American taxpayer.”
Before implementing GrantSolutions, financial assistance information was primarily managed within each of the Department’s 10 bureaus. Each of the bureaus used different means to manage the information, leading to inconsistency in documentation and management across the Department.
Audits conducted by the DOI Inspector General on grants and other financial assistance programs revealed issues such as insufficient structures to monitor recipients’ expenditures properly and track real estate easements purchased with federal dollars. The new centralized platform will allow for increased monitoring and standardized financial reporting.
Standardizing processes, streamlining management oversight, automating functions and improving efficiencies will lead to better outcomes for both the beneficiaries of DOI financial assistance and the employees who manage the process.
“With DOI’s extensive suite of grant programs, working with this program gives the Department the opportunity to take advantage of proven best practices, so we can deliver consistent value for the taxpayer,” said Susan Combs, Senior Adviser to the Secretary, exercising the authority of Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget. “Modernizing our processes and increasing accountability and transparency will ultimately allow DOI to do a better job of conserving and managing America’s natural resources for the benefit of the public.”