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GAO report – SAMHSA must do better on grant reporting

June 13, 2015

From the GAO Report Summary – Highlights of GAO-15-405, a report to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives

Why GAO Did This Study
In 2013, SAMHSA estimated 43.8 million—or 18.5 percent—of adults in the United States suffered from a mental illness. SAMHSA, an agency within HHS, has various programs that aim to reduce the impact of mental illness through CMHS grants awarded to grantees that include states, territories, and nonprofit organizations.

GAO was asked to provide information on CMHS’s oversight of mental health grant programs. This report identifies

  • CMHS’s criteria for awarding grants to grantees, and how CMHS documents the application of these criteria;
  • the types of information CMHS uses to oversee its grantees; and
  • the steps CMHS takes to demonstrate how its grant programs further the achievement of SAMHSA’s goals.

GAO reviewed information related to CMHS grants management; reviewed grant documentation from fiscal years 2012 and 2013 for a nongeneralizable selection of 16 grantees within 5 grant programs: the MHBG, PAIMI, and 3 selected discretionary grant programs that GAO selected based on factors such as size of award and type of grantee; and interviewed SAMHSA officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that the Administrator of SAMHSA direct CMHS to take steps, such as developing additional program-specific guidance, to ensure that it consistently and completely documents both the application of criteria when awarding grants to grantees, and its ongoing oversight of grantees once grants are awarded. HHS concurred with this recommendation.

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