NAICU Washington Update

GAO Study on K-12 Use of Funds Could Be a Precursor for Higher Ed Reporting

April 02, 2021

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study this week examining the government’s tracking of federal COVID relief funding.  The report includes an overview of how the Department of Education tracks the use of funds in K-12, which has come under criticism for not spending its COVID relief funds quickly enough.

The report could increase pressure on the Department to track all education spending under the COVID relief bills sooner.  Currently, colleges and universities only report on their usage of funds through the filing of quarterly reports.  This study comes on the heels of the Department’s Office of Inspector General recommending earlier this month for an increase in monitoring and oversight of reporting and institutional compliance on the use of funds by colleges and universities.

The GAO concluded that the system the Department is using to track education funds is insufficient because it only tracks funding after it has been drawn down from the Department.  This gave the impression that funding that had been dedicated and obligated by local school districts had not been used.  This in turn contributed to a mistaken impression that K-12 funding was not being used in a timely manner.

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