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We reviewed the State of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program.  We selected the State of Florida in accordance with our goal to review disaster funding and based on a congressional request for us to conduct disaster capacity reviews for recent disasters, including Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew, and Irma.  Our audit objective was to determine whether the State of Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity had the capacity to administer its CDBG-DR grants in accordance with applicable regulations and requirements.

The Department should strengthen its capacity to administer its CDBG-DR grants in accordance with applicable regulations and requirements.  Specifically, it could strengthen its capacity by (1) finalizing its policies and procedures for its disaster program, (2) ensuring that subrecipient agreements are not executed before its policies and procedures are finalized, (3) improving its financial controls to address weaknesses, (4) improving its process for preventing duplication of benefits, and (5) continuing to increase its staffing.  These challenges existed because the Department was in the planning stages of implementing its program for the 2016 and 2017 disasters and had weaknesses in its oversight of the program and financial controls related to its expenditures.  Strengthening its capacity to administer disaster grants would help ensure that the Department properly spends more than $1.5 billion in CDBG-DR funding in accordance with applicable requirements. 

We recommend that the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grant Programs instruct the Department to (1) obtain HUD approval of its disaster policies and procedures before executing its subrecipient agreements and ensure that its finalized policies and procedures include financial management, procurement, duplication of benefits, and monitoring; (2) establish and implement adequate financial controls to ensure that its disaster funds are properly classified and allocated to the correct grant; (3) continue establishing data sharing agreements to prevent the risk of duplicated benefits; and (4) continue to fill its staffing vacancy and assess resources as it prepares for additional disaster funds.