In response to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed the Veterans Health Administration’s (VHA) tracking and reporting of COVID-19 supplemental funding from legislation for pandemic relief.
VA met monthly reporting requirements to OMB and Congress on supplemental fund obligations and expenditures. VA also submitted required weekly obligations and expenditures from supplemental funding to OMB by program activity. Of approximately $17.3 billion in medical care supplemental funds, VA reported it had obligated about $7.11 billion and had spent about $5.67 billion by December 29, 2020.
The OIG team noted three concerns where VA’s reporting was not complete and accurate:
• Obligations were at risk of not being included in VA’s reports.
• VA initially delayed the reporting of reimbursable obligated amounts for two months.
• VA’s reports contained negative dollar amounts in data fields that should have only positive amounts, which misstated VA’s overall reported obligations.
Those concerns indicate weaknesses in how VA and VHA internal controls are structured to meet reporting requirements. Despite the risks identified, VA performed only a limited review at the summary fund level of its COVID-19 obligations and expenditures before reporting. A review of summary funds is not detailed enough to identify potential anomalies and ensure reliability of externally reported information. OMB’s guidance required VA to report on obligations and expenditures classified by the type of items or services purchased.
The OIG concluded that the three identified variances affected the quality of reporting. Given the inherent risks due to outdated financial information technology infrastructure, the OIG recommended developing a procedure to review and validate the data at the program activity level to ensure information accurately represents the underlying source transactions. This procedure would help ensure proper accounting for all COVID-19 obligations and expenditures.