Federal Awards



GAO: National Science Foundation: Preliminary Observations on Indirect Costs for Research

May 2017

The National Science Foundation makes awards to universities and other organizations to support research and education. NSF reimburses these organizations for direct costs, such as salaries and equipment, as well as indirect costs like rent and utilities—which are not necessarily tied to specific awards.

We testified that indirect costs for NSF awards ranged from 16 to 24 percent of total annual award funding from fiscal years 2000-2016. NSF has developed guidance for setting indirect cost rates, which determine the amounts that an organization may be reimbursed for indirect costs, but staff didn't consistently use this guidance. Report


GAO: Grants Management: Monitoring Efforts by Corporation for National and Community Service Could Be Improved 

March 2017

Created in 1993, Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) distributes about $750 million in grants annually to volunteer and national service programs for needs ranging from disaster recovery to improving education. 

CNCS has not conducted the strategic workforce planning necessary to determine whether it has the people and resources to effectively monitor grantees' compliance with grant program requirements, as key principles for effective strategic workforce planning suggest. CNCS's workforce management activities to address vacancies have been largely ad-hoc, including vacancies in a key office responsible for grant monitoring, at senior levels across the agency, and among program and grant officers. Some of these vacancies reduced the number of fiscal year 2015 monitoring activities conducted. Further, program and grant officers' workloads varied across the agency, and CNCS has not evaluated whether staff have been deployed where they are most needed. Officials said they had not developed a strategic workforce planning process because of limited resources. Without such a process, CNCS's efforts to address workforce challenges may continue to be ad hoc and reactive. Report


GAO: Improvements Needed in Selected Agencies' Oversight of Federal Awards

February 2017

In fiscal year 2015, federal agencies outlaid over $600 billion in federal awards to state and local governments, according to OMB. The Single Audit Act of 1984, as amended, requires that federal agencies oversee their awards to nonfederal entities.

Of the five agencies in GAO's study—the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Transportation—some of the agencies' subagencies that GAO reviewed did not effectively design policies and procedures to reasonably assure the timely submission of single audit reports by award recipients. Report.