ED’s Internal Watchdog Provides Best Practices for Identifying Pandemic Relief Fund Fraud

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter

The Department of Education's (ED) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has unveiled a new guide to summarize fraud reporting requirements for institutions’ funding related to pandemic relief.

The recently published resource comes on the heels of ED conducting outreach with stakeholders that raised questions about how and when to report fraud.

Pandemic relief programs implemented by Congress have led to a significant increase in grant funds for new and existing programs; the most significant for ED is the Education Stabilization Fund, which provided the department with more than $280 billion to assist states, elementary and secondary schools, institutions of higher education, and other education-related entities in meeting their needs and the needs of students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

On the higher education front, the watchdog highlights how a trio of congressional aid packages have bolstered Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF), and provides grantees, subgrantees and auditors with a summary of uniform guidance requirements that can aid award recipients in reported suspected fraud.

“If you suspect fraud or something that could be fraud, report it to OIG’s Investigation Services,” the report reads. “Working together is the best way to stop those who seek to enrich themselves with pandemic relief funds. Together, we can help ensure that this funding is used as intended: helping our nation’s schools and students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Further aid recipients can report suspected fraud on the watchdog’s website at http://oighotline.ed.gov or can call toll-free or write OIG.


Publication Date: 7/20/2021

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