Recently Released Report
U.S. Department of the Interior's Landscape Conservation Cooperatives
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) audited 6 of the 22 landscape conservation cooperatives (LCCs) that are part of a Nationwide network largely managed and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and serve as the front line for activities related to climate change. LCCs were created to leverage resources and encourage science-based inquiries to respond to landscape-level stressors, including climate change. DOI set aside $88.3 million for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 to support LCC staffing, science, and operational needs. A major vehicle for addressing science needs is financial assistance in the form of grants and cooperative agreements.
We performed our audit to determine if financial assistance awards, specifically grants and cooperative agreements, for LCCs are being properly awarded and effectively managed. Specifically, we found areas of concern that could potentially place millions of dollars at risk and jeopardize future funding and support for the LCC’s activities. For example, we identified issues related to the effective implementation of internal controls, the selection and awarding of financial agreements through fair and open competition, as well as oversight and control of LCCs. Our audit did not assess the quality of the science, decision support tools, and other products resulting from the financial assistance processes, and we found LCCs to be a highly valuable conservation approach to addressing large-scale challenges and stresses to our natural resources.
Our audit provides FWS with a significant opportunity to take an early look at administrative practices associated with grant management activities. We provided 15 recommendations to improve the management of financial assistance awards.
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