Audit of Selected Cooperative Agreements Supporting Department of State Refugee Resettlement Support Centers

AUD-SI-23-28
    Report Contents
    Unclassified
    Unclassified

    What OIG Audited
    Individuals outside the United States seeking admission as refugees are typically processed through the United States Refugee Admissions Program, which is managed by the Department of State (Department), Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). PRM funds organizations to manage overseas refugee Resettlement Support Centers (RSC) that assist in the processing of refugee applications.

    The Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted this audit to determine whether selected recipients of cooperative agreement funds supporting RSCs adhered to applicable federal requirements, Department policies and guidance, and award terms and conditions. To perform the audit, OIG conducted fieldwork at three RSCs with offices in Bangkok, Thailand; Istanbul, Turkey; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; and Nairobi, Kenya.

    What OIG Recommends
    OIG offered 13 recommendations to address the deficiencies identified in this report and to determine the allowability of costs claimed. On the basis of PRM’s response to a draft of this report, OIG considers all 13 recommendations resolved, pending further action. A synopsis of management’s responses to the recommendations offered and OIG’s reply follow each recommendation in the Audit Results section of this report. Responses received from PRM are included in their entirety in Appendix C.

    What OIG Found
    The selected recipients of cooperative agreement funds supporting RSCs did not always adhere to federal requirements, Department guidance, and award terms and conditions. Specifically, OIG found that, of 60 refugee applications reviewed, 39 (65 percent) had deficiencies primarily related to administrative requirements. In addition, OIG found instances in which the RSCs did not maintain consistent information between the case management system and the physical case file as required. Specifically, 12 of 36 (33 percent) cases reviewed had differences. Furthermore, OIG found that none of the 12 RSC caseworkers observed conducted prescreening interviews in accordance with requirements. These deficiencies occurred, in part, because PRM’s quality control processes did not address all applicable requirements. In addition, RSC caseworkers at times misinterpreted PRM guidance. Noncompliance with requirements could result in inconsistent refugee application information, applicants who are not fully informed about the refugee admissions process, and delays to an application process that can take years to complete.

    OIG also found the selected award recipients did not always submit accurate performance reports. This occurred primarily because the performance report template provided by PRM did not include sufficient guidance for calculating performance data. As a result, performance reporting did not always represent the recipient’s actual performance when underperforming or overperforming.

    Finally, OIG found that selected award recipients did not always spend funds in accordance with federal requirements and award terms and conditions. Specifically, OIG tested 144 expenditures, totaling $1,941,605, and found 24 expenditures (17 percent) were unallowable. Generally, recipients claimed these costs because they believed them to be justified. Nonetheless, OIG is questioning $759,000 in costs considered unsupported or unallowable.

    Recommendation Number
    1
    Closed Implemented

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration review its refugee application quality control processes to identify gaps and develop and implement improvements to provide reasonable assurance that program objectives will be achieved.

    Recommendation Number
    2
    Closed Implemented

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration review its standard operating procedures to consolidate and clarify guidance related to prescreening refugee applicants and ensuring data consistency between START and the physical case file.

    Recommendation Number
    3
    Closed Implemented

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration collaborate with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to evaluate steps in the standard operating procedures related to prescreening refugees and update those procedures as appropriate.

    Recommendation Number
    4
    Closed Implemented

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration review performance reporting guidance for award recipients and include additional instructions as appropriate in the performance report template to assist Resettlement Support Centers in capturing and accurately reporting performance data in accordance with Department requirements.

    Recommendation Number
    5
    Open Resolved $426,527

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (a) determine whether the $426,527 in questioned costs related to International Rescue Committee’s cooperative agreement (SPRMCO22CA0007) for an office renovation contract and canvas bags, as detailed in Appendix B, are allowable and (b) recover any costs determined to be unallowable.

    Recommendation Number
    6
    Open Resolved $127,899

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (a) determine whether the $127,899 in unsupported costs related to International Rescue Committee’s cooperative agreement (SPRMCO22CA0007) for the purchase of equipment, the renting of meeting rooms, and professional services contracts, as detailed in Appendix B, are supported and (b) recover any costs determined to be unsupported.

    Recommendation Number
    7
    Open Resolved $42,884

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (a) determine whether the $42,884 in unsupported costs related to Church World Service’s cooperative agreement (SPRMCO22CA0005) for a security services contract, mechanical engineer consulting services contract, and lodging costs, as detailed in Appendix B, are supported and (b) recover all costs determined to be unsupported.

    Recommendation Number
    8
    Open Resolved

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (a) determine whether all other payments made in the first, second, and fourth quarters of FY 2022 related to Church World Service’s cooperative agreement (SPRMCO22CA0005) for a security services contract and a mechanical engineer consulting services contract are supported and (b) recover all additional costs determined to be unsupported.

    Recommendation Number
    9
    Closed Implemented $39,094

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (a) determine whether the $39,094 in unsupported costs related to International Catholic Migration Commission’s cooperative agreement (SPRMCO22CA0002) for consulting services contracts, as detailed in Appendix B, are supported and (b) recover any costs determined to be unsupported.

    Recommendation Number
    10
    Open Resolved $122,596

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (a) determine whether the $122,596 in questioned costs related to International Catholic Migration Commission’s cooperative agreement (SPRMCO22CA0002) for a security contract, as detailed in Appendix B, are reasonable and (b) recover all costs determined to be unreasonable.

    Recommendation Number
    11
    Open Resolved

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (a) review all contracts executed by International Catholic Migration Commission under award SPRMCO22CA0002 not already covered under this audit report to determine whether the costs associated with those contracts comply with Code of Federal Regulations requirements and (b) recover all costs determined to be unallowable.

    Recommendation Number
    12
    Open Resolved

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration revise its standard operating procedures related to post-award monitoring as needed to require spot checks of vouchers.

    Recommendation Number
    13
    Open Resolved

    OIG recommends that the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration develop and implement a communications strategy to inform current and future award recipients about the cost principles for award recipients outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.), 2 C.F.R. Part 200 and 2 C.F.R. Part 600.