The program must have sufficient oversight capacity. This capacity may be demonstrated by a program that:
• Has a reporting system in place to document grantees’ use of funds in eligible activity categories;
• Conducts site visits to a substantial number of grantees on a regular basis;
• Audits grantee performance; and
• Tracks actual expenditures to verify that funds are used for their designated purpose.
The Agency’s processes for identifying and mitigating challenges and risks are set forth in Sections G, H, I, and J of its narrative Program Plan, separately submitted to OMB. Below is some, but not all, of the ways that the Forest Service is ensuring oversight capacity.
Acquisition Management (AQM): The Director of Acquisition Management has responsibility for implementation of processes to ensure compliance with ARRA and OMB Guidance on ARRA awards. AQM has established a link on its internal website for ARRA standard operating procedures for contracting officers (COs), contracting officers’ representatives (CORs), program managers, and other AQM staff. A national strategy for supporting the expenditure of ARRA funds has been established with two components: (1) Requirements Package Preparation Support will lie with local AQM staffs; and (2) AQM Recovery Project Support will occur through staff at four nation-wide Economic Recovery Opportunity Centers (EROCs). Once the EROCs are established, instruments implementing projects funded by the ARRA will be processed by these centers. Until then, AQM’s Washington Office will provide direct oversight of ARRA awards.
Office of Chief Financial Officer (OCFO): The CFO is responsible for ensuring that financial reporting required by the ARRA, including information provided by AQM, is accurate and timely and properly reported. The CFO is also responsible for providing oversight on risk mitigation strategies for ARRA funds expended by the Forest Service. Staff at Internal Quality Assurance (IQA), which report to the CFO, will perform independent reviews to ensure that specific ARRA program goals are met, including verification of financial accuracy, completeness, and compliance of reports products to meet accountability and transparency standards. IQA will also serve as the audit liaison for USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) on Forest Service ARRA-related audits, by providing audit oversight and coordination on all requests.
Forest Service Economic Recovery Team: The Economic Recovery Team, led by the Economic Recovery Executive, will conduct quarterly reviews of progress on awards, including the number, percent, and dollar amount of contracts, grants, and agreements that are advertised through the competitive process, that are awarded to small businesses, and that are awarded to minority-owned businesses. Reviews will include an evaluation of whether any projects are behind schedule to determine appropriate action. The Economic Recovery Team, working with IQA, will establish criteria for determining if funds should be re-allocated or de-obligated to be used on other projects.
Performance Accountability System: The Forest Service’s Performance Accountability System (PAS) – Managerial Reports can be updated daily (USDA updates financial data every other day) to report weekly on timely award of dollars, timely expenditure of dollars, and detection of cost overruns.