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The U.S. Department of Education’s Processes for Overseeing Charter Schools Program Grants to Charter Management Organizations for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools

Report Information

Date Issued
Report Number
A18IL0009
What We Did

The objective of our audit was to determine whether the Department designed and implemented processes that provided reasonable assurance that Charter Schools Program Grants to Charter Management Organizations for the Replication and Expansion of High-Quality Charter Schools (Replication and Expansion) grantees reported complete and accurate information in their annual performance reports (APR) and spent grant funds only on allowable activities and in accordance with program requirements.

What We Found

The Department and the Charter School Program (CSP) office designed processes that should have provided reasonable assurance that recipients of Replication and Expansion grants reported complete and accurate information in their APRs. We concluded that the CSP office generally implemented these processes as designed. However, it did not always ensure that CSP program officers accurately and completely filled out APR review templates and notified grantees of issues or concerns identified during their reviews of APRs. As a result, the CSP office might not have had reliable information needed to make informed decisions about continuation funding. Additionally, the CSP office might not have provided timely assistance to grantees that needed assistance to meet their approved goals. Further, we determined that the Department and the CSP office also designed processes that should have provided reasonable assurance that Replication and Expansion grantees spent grant funds only on allowable activities and in accordance with program requirements. We concluded that the CSP office generally implemented these processes as designed. However, it did not always ensure that grantees implemented corrective actions to address significant compliance issues relevant to their uses of Replication and Expansion grant funds, fiscal control, and fund accounting. Lastly, the CSP office did not always retain records in official grant files. As a result, the CSP office could not find about 52 percent of the APR review forms that we concluded CSP program officers should have completed from October 1, 2015, through June 30, 2021. Additionally, the CSP office could not find written correspondence with the grantees associated with about 10 percent of the APR review forms that we requested for review.

What We Recommend

We made three recommendations. Specifically, we recommended that the Department  

  • regularly review the work of CSP program officers to ensure that they are implementing the processes for completing APR review templates and communicating with grantees about issues with or concerns about their APRs as designed, 
  • implement procedures to ensure that it completes the portions of corrective action plans identifying recommended corrective actions and describing how or whether the grantee corrected the significant compliance issues relevant to grant expenditures, and 
  • retain records demonstrating that grantees implement corrective actions to address significant compliance issues relevant to grant expenditures. 
Management Challenge Area

Oversight and Monitoring

Related Work Products

Recommendations

No recommendations at this time.