Pandemic Relief Aid Oversight
Three measures were signed into law providing the U.S. Department of Education (Department) with more than $280 billion to assist States, K–12 schools, school districts, and institutions of higher education in meeting their needs and the needs of their students impacted by the coronavirus pandemic—the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act (March 2020), the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021-Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (December 2020), and the American Rescue Plan (March 2021). The OIG, as the independent oversight arm of the Department, is working to ensure that education-related coronavirus response funds are used as required and reach the intended recipients. We do this by conducting independent audit and other reviews, and by investigating allegations of misuse, theft, and other criminal activity involving these funds. Below you will find our plans, products, and additional information specific to our pandemic relief aid oversight work.
Oversight Plans and Agency Challenges
- Pandemic Relief Oversight Plan (October 2021)
- Summary of the most significant management challenges facing the Department related to pandemic relief aid efforts (June 2020)
- Pandemic Response Accountability Committee Report on the top challenges facing agencies funded by pandemic relief aid (June 2020)
Pandemic Relief Aid Fraud—Identify and Report it!
Criminals and bad actors are targeting pandemic relief funding, seizing on every opportunity they can to steal or intentionally misuse this money—including preying on students, schools, and Federal, State, and local government agencies. The following information provides information on what education-related pandemic fraud looks like and how you can help identify and report it.
- Fraud Reporting Requirements for Federal Program Participants and Auditors
- Help Protect Coronavirus Funds from Fraud and Abuse Digital Booklet
- Let’s Work Together to Protect Coronavirus Response Funds from Fraud and Abuse One-Page Flyer
- CARES Act/Student Aid Fraud Awareness Poster
- CARES Act K–12 Fraud Awareness Poster
Pandemic Response Accountability Committee
The CARES Act establishes the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), composed of inspectors general from across the Federal government. The PRAC is tasked with conducting, coordinating, and supporting inspectors general in their oversight of trillions of dollars in emergency Federal spending to address the economic impacts of the pandemic. The CARES Act named nine specific agency inspectors general to the PRAC, including the OIG for the U.S. Department of Education. Inspector General Sandra D. Bruce represents the OIG on the PRAC, chairing its GAO, State and Local Subcommittee. Inspector General Bruce is also a member of the PRAC’s financial sector oversight work group. Visit the PRAC’s website for more information.
Federal-State Coronavirus Task Forces
The OIG is working with our law enforcement colleagues across the country to stop pandemic relief aid fraud. This includes participating on Federal-State coronavirus fraud tasks forces. These task forces are working to quickly address fraud complaints and to identify, investigate, and prosecute fraud related to the pandemic. You can find out more about these task forces and the scams and schemes they are stopping via the U.S. Department of Justice coronavirus fraud website.
OIG Completed and Ongoing Audit-Related Work
Below you'll find our ongoing and completed pandemic pandemic relief oversight work.
- Federal Student Aid's Use of Pandemic Assistance Student Aid Administration Funds (Issued 8/1/2023)
- Federal Student Aid’s Processes for Waiving Return of Title IV Requirements, Cancelling Borrowers’ Obligation to Repay Direct Loans, and Excluding Pell Grants from Federal Pell Lifetime Usage (Issued 5/10/2023)
- OIG Pandemic Relief Aid Oversight Plan (Updated 10/28/2021, issued 5/22/2020)
- Top Challenges for the Department to Consideration in Implementing and Overseeing the CARES Act (Issued 9/10/2020)
- Assessment of the Department's Reconstitution Plans Following COVID-19 (Issued 12/14/2020)
- FSA’s Suspension of Involuntary Collection in Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic (Issued 6/15/2021)
- Fraud Reporting Requirements for Federal Program Participants and Auditors (Issued 7/15/2021)
- Inconsistent Grantee and Subgrantee Reporting of Education Stabilization Fund Subprograms in the Federal Audit Clearinghouse (Issued 8/26/2021)
- The Department’s Use of Pandemic Assistance Program Administration Funds (Issued 9/27/2022)
- Implementation of CARES Act Flexibilities to TEACH Grant Service Obligations (Issued 1/20/2022)
- FSA’s Use of Pandemic Assistance Student Aid Administration Funds—Underway
Elementary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER)
- Allocation of CARES Act ESSER Funds at Selected Local Educational Agencies (Issued 9/26/2022)
- Local Educational Agencies’ Use of ESSER Funds for Technology (Issued 9/7/2023)
- Selected State Education Agencies’ Oversight of American Rescue Plan ESSER Plans and Funding
Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds (GEER)
- Review of State Plans for Use of GEER Funds (Issued 12/20/2021)
- Selected States’ Administration of GEER Fund Grants
Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF)
- Selected Schools’ HEERF Reporting Requirements (Issued 2/26/201)
- Risk of Closed Institutions of Higher Education Receiving HEERF Grants (Issued 5/14/2021)
- Selected Institutions of Higher Education Use of HEERF
- The Office of Postsecondary Education’s Oversight of HEERF (Issued 6/1/2022)
- Duplicate HEERF Grant Awards (Issued 6/9/2022)
Department’s HEERF Audit Resolution Activities (Issued 11/15/2023)