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LIHEAP AT 2010-6 Plan Supplement Required for FY 2011

Published: June 8, 2010
Audience:
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Category:
Guidance, Policies, Procedures, Action Transmittal

TO: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Grantees and Other Interested Parties

SUBJECT:  Plan Supplement Required for Fiscal Year (FY) 2011: LIHEAP Program Integrity Plan – Application for LIHEAP Funding

RELATED REFERENCES:
Presidential Executive Order 13520, Reducing Improper Payments and Eliminating Waste in Federal Programs, issued November 23, 2009. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Act, as amended Title XXVI of Public Law 97-35), as amended; the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981; Federal Regulations at 45 CFR 96.84; Information Memorandum, LIHEAP-IM-2010-5, dated March 25, 2010

PURPOSE:
To provide LIHEAP Grantees with the Model Plan format for use in submitting additional information on plans and strategies for ensuring program integrity. This information is required as a supplement to the FY 2011 State Plan, which is due to HHS on September 1, 2010.

BACKGROUND:
States, Territories, and Tribes/Tribal Organizations (Grantees) that wish to receive LIHEAP funds must submit an application, or State Plan, to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to receive funds each year.  On March 25, 2010, The Office of Community Service transmitted to Grantees the LIHEAP State Plan Application requirements for fiscal year 2011 funding, which is due September 1, 2010.

The LIHEAP block grant regulations at 45 CFR 96.84(c) discusses the prevention of waste, fraud and abuse, and provides that:

Grantees must establish appropriate systems and procedures to prevent, detect and correct waste, fraud and abuse in activities funded under the low-income home energy assistance program.  The systems and procedures are to address possible waste, fraud and abuse by clients, vendors, and administering agencies.

Under prior guidance, the senior responsible official in the States, Tribes or Territories (e.g., Secretary of Social Services or similar agency) was required to affirm in the State Plan that the Grantee will uphold all rules, regulations, and policies associated with the LIHEAP program.  One of the 16 assurances is that Grantees have in place policies that address waste, fraud and abuse.

Presidential Executive Order 13520, Reducing Improper Payments and Eliminating Waste in Federal Programs, issued in November 2009, encourages Federal agencies to take deliberate and immediate action to eliminate fraud and improper payments.  As part of the review of programs subsequent to this executive order, HHS has determined that additional information from each administering agency is necessary to assess LIHEAP Grantees’ measures in place to deter or address waste, fraud and abuse in this critical energy program.

Content:
HHS is committed to working with its State and local partners to ensure that LIHEAP program resources are effectively reaching the vulnerable low-income households the program is intended to serve.  As such, HHS seeks to ensure that effective preventive controls, fraud detection, monitoring, and prosecution systems exist at all levels of the program’s administration to prevent improper payments, fraud, waste or abuse.

In this Action Transmittal, HHS requests that States supplement their FY 2011 State Plan with a “LIHEAP Program Integrity Assessment and Plan.”  Grantees must specifically address how the plan will address key elements of an effective fraud prevention system.  Attachment 1 provides a framework and checklist that States may use to provide this information.  While LIHEAP grantees are not required to use the Model Plan format, the format that is submitted must include all of the information requested in the Model Plan. 

All LIHEAP grantees – including those scheduled to submit an abbreviated LIHEAP plan for FY 2011 – must submit a Program Integrity Plan as outlined by this supplement.  The LIHEAP grantee’s plan will not be certified as complete if this additional information is omitted from the application or the plan is not described in sufficient detail.

LIHEAP grantees should examine and describe their planned FY11 procedures for LIHEAP program integrity and specifically outline actions or procedures which were not part of the State plan in FY10, but which will be implemented in FY11. 

A sound program integrity plan should address the following areas:

Prevention – Steps the State takes to ensure that LIHEAP payments are made on behalf to eligible households only, and that payments are received by eligible vendors, that is, vendors that have or will provide heating or cooling-related energy to the households found eligible for assistance.
Detection – Planned strategies for monitoring payments and identifying improper payments, administrative errors, or fraudulently administered fund;.
Correction – Executing immediate action to make program repairs if program integrity has been compromised;
Prosecution– Reporting of abuses to law enforcement officials.
OCS will look for descriptions in the Grantee’s Plan Supplement that clearly address the key elements of a sound integrity plan, and are particularly interested in the Grantee’s efforts with respect to:

Applicant and household verification measures for identity (including the use of Social Security Numbers in applications) and income employed by the State and its local administering agency;
The controls that exist that all recorded transactions actually occurred, are valid in relation to the applicant household, and were properly approved in accordance with the State’s eligibility and authorization policy;
Energy vendor authenticity measures are employed by the State and its local administering agency; and
Policies and procedures are in place by the responsible State agency and local administering agencies that assess and deter improper payments, including via the prosecution of cases of improper payments made due to fraud or abuse.
Instructions for Completing the Supplement
The attached framework provides categories under which descriptions are requested.  Within each category, there are 3 columns for Grantees to provide their responses.  You are asked to provide complete descriptions under each of the columns in response to the specific questions in each of these categories.  The fourth column provides the expected outcomes and strategies identified for each category, which may help guide Grantees in their responses.  While this model format is not required, the information requested is necessary to discern the State’s Plan is complete.

Deadline for Submission
The FY 2011 LIHEAP Plan and the Plan Supplement on program integrity are due to HHS on September 1, 2010.  The plan will not be certified as complete and an FY 2011 grant will not be awarded until all of the information required for completeness is received (including the supplement).
 

Attachments:  (1) LIHEAP Program Integrity Framework Supplement

Submissions to:
Nick St. Angelo, Director
Division of Energy Assistance
Office of Community Services
370 L’Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447
Email: nick.stangelo@acf.hhs.gov

 

 

                                        

  _/s/________________
  Yolanda J. Butler, Ph.D.
  Acting Director
  Office of Community Services