ED’s Internal Watchdog Outlines Challenges With Implementing and Overseeing CARES Act

By Owen Daugherty, NASFAA Staff Reporter

The Department of Education’s (ED) internal watchdog recently released a report detailing the issues the agency has faced in implementing and providing oversight of the Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the federal COVID-19 package which provided higher education nearly $14 billion in relief.

ED’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) in the report said the department would struggle with issues that have persisted in the past, such as providing guidance, training, technical assistance, and outreach. The report also found that ED has faced challenges in the monitoring and oversight of grant programs.

ED should learn from past lessons in providing “comprehensive and timely guidance, training, technical assistance, and outreach,” the report said. Furthermore, ED must “provide guidance to and rely on postsecondary institutions, contracted servicers, collection agencies, guaranty agencies, and accrediting agencies to effectively implement the CARES Act and related provisions,” the report noted.

In response to a draft of the report, an ED official said the department “was under enormous pressure” by the language in the CARES Act to quickly and effectively distribute the funding while doing so with maximum flexibility. “It is our hope that the audit work of the [OIG] will take these facts into account,” ED wrote. 


Publication Date: 9/15/2020

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