Sports adapted for athletes with disabilities can play a vital role in improving veterans’ quality of life. VA’s Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events (NVSPSE) granted $47 million to organizations with experience in managing adaptive sports programs from fiscal year (FY) 2017 to FY 2020.
In December 2019, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) received a hotline complaint alleging fraud in how the NVSPSE was “closing out” adaptive sports grants—bringing a grant to an end after determining recipients have completed all requirements. The OIG examined whether officials effectively managed the program to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The team also examined whether grant recipients were reimbursed on time.
The OIG did not find evidence of fraud in the grant closeout process; however, it found that the NVSPSE was not effectively managing the program. The NVSPSE’s director had not established adequate internal controls, including developing standard operating procedures for managing adaptive sports grants. As a result, the NVSPSE could not effectively evaluate risks from grant recipients, did not reimburse some recipients’ expenses on time, did not always close out grants on time, and did not appropriately authorize extensions for using funds.
By not closing out grants on time, the NVSPSE failed to free up about $346,000 that could have been used for other purposes. It also improperly allowed recipients to spend $328,000 in FY 2017 appropriations outside the approved period and improperly reimbursed 19 recipients a total of about $247,000. These expenditures may have violated both the Purpose Statute and the Antideficiency Act.
The OIG made seven recommendations to improve management of the adaptive sports grants program and to determine whether Purpose Statute or Antideficiency Act violations occurred.