Pandemic Response Accountability Committee Lays Out Oversight Strategy
Published: July 29, 2020
Earlier this week, the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) released its Strategic Plan for 2020-2025 to help safeguard more than $2.4 trillion in federal stimulus funding.
- PRAC released its strategic plan to guide oversight efforts from 2020 to 2025.
- PRAC plans to use technology such as analytics and artificial intelligence to identify potential fraud, waste, and abuse in the use of stimulus funding.
- PRAC plans to be fully staffed by the end of September and to release a new version of its website with more robust analytics in the fall.
The CARES Act established the PRAC to provide oversight, accountability and transparency to federal stimulus funding provided to individuals, businesses, and state, local, and tribal governments to fight COVID-19 and its resulting economic impacts.
PRAC’s mission is “to serve the American public by promoting transparency and the coordinated oversight of the Federal Government’s coronavirus response to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, and to identify and mitigate major risks that cross-program and agency boundaries.”
PRAC Executive Director, Robert Westbrooks, spoke about PRAC and its strategic plan during an interview with Tom Temins yesterday on the Federal Drive. Westbrook stated that PRAC is composed of 21 agency Inspectors General and the PRAC initial staff consisted of borrowed resources from the Offices of Inspectors General (OIGs). PRAC is now staffing up with permanent career hires and entering into interagency agreements for shared services. Using the strategic plan, they are on track to reach full staffing by September 30th.
Due to the pandemic, PRAC is operating as a virtual workplace in the cloud with a distributed workforce, according to Westbrooks. Nevertheless, the health crisis hasn’t slowed their progress. They quickly stood up a website, pandemic.oversight.gov, with a revised version slated to launch in the fall, and they developed the strategic plan to guide their efforts.
PRAC’s strategic plan presents four broad goals:
- Prevent and Detect Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Mismanagement
- Promote Transparency
- Promote Coordinated, Comprehensive Oversight
- Ensure Effective and Efficient PRAC Operations
According to the plan, preventing and detecting fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement will involve mitigating major risks that cut across program and agency boundaries, and holding wrongdoers accountable. As part of this objective, PRAC plans to “provide leading-edge data analytics, visualization, and risk modeling to identify indicators of fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement.”
In the area of promoting transparency, PRAC plans to deliver a robust, user-friendly website with a wide range of data related to coronavirus response and covered funds. It also will make available reports and recommendations issued by Inspectors General (IGs) and other oversight partners.
To promote coordinated, comprehensive oversight, PRAC will provide a forum for coordination and collaboration among IGs and other oversight partners, such as GAO, state and local auditors, evaluators, and inspectors. PRAC plans to serve as a conduit to minimize duplication of effort and maximize “high-impact oversight.” PRAC will also foster “sound stewardship of covered funds and programs” by assessing agency compliance with standards, remediating risks, reducing improper payments, and reviewing the effectiveness of coronavirus response programs.
PRAC also plans to provide a modern IT infrastructure to allow the efficient sharing of timely, relevant, actionable data among IGs. As part of this, PRAC plans to make use of leading-edge data analytics, visualization, and artificial intelligence to identify suspicious links, patterns, trends, and outliers to hone in on risk areas.
According to a June Federal News Network article, PRAC at the time was reimbursing the Postal Service IG for technology services and support but had plans to take over the management of its own IT and hire an executive to lead the effort. According to Westbrooks at this time, PRAC was soliciting website, data, and analytics management services through the Alliant 2 contract vehicle and hoped to have a contract in place by mid- July.
The CAREs Act allocated $80 million to PRAC for operations and resources.