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EPA IG says Oregon non-profit should return $9 million grant

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A $9 million economic stimulus program grant awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to an Oregon environmental group should be given back, according to the EPA Inspector-General because of multiple accounting, procurement and job reporting failures.

The $9 million EPA grant was awarded to Cascade Sierrra Solutions in 2009 as part of the agency's efforts to assist firms operating diesel trucks to reduce their emissions. Based in Eugene, Oregon, CSS is a non-profit organization that to date has received more than $61 million from EPA to establish and operate the diesel truck emissions reductions nationwide.

The IG recommended that EPA get the $9 million back from CSS because it found the non-profit could not account for how the federal funds were spent.

The EPA IG report looked specifically at the 2009 grant and sought to document that the non-profit had spent the federal funds as required by the grant terms in accordance with federal laws and regulations.

But the IG recommended that EPA get the $9 million back from CSS because it found the non-profit could not account for how the federal funds were spent. Specifically, the IG found that:

* The CSS "financial management system pertaining to cash draws, revolving fund accounting, project costs, and progress reporting does not meet the

requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)."

* The CSS "procurements did not meet competition or cost and price analysis requirements" under the CFR.

* The CSS "reporting of the number of jobs created or retained with Recovery Act funds did not comply with Office of Management and Budget guidance."

As a result, the EPA IG recommended that the agency's "director for the Office of Grants and Debarment disallow and recover $9 million in questioned costs; consider suspension and debarment of CSS on current and future awards; require CSS to ensure that the use of funds meets federal criteria; require special conditions for future awards to CSS; and provide clarifying guidance to CSS on progress reporting requirements."

The IG report said EPA officials generally agreed with its recommendations, but noted that CSS officials did not.

Go here to read the full report.

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