Washington Failed to Provide Adequate Oversight of ARP ESSER Plans and Spending; U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Inspector General Releases Investigation Findings

U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) Office of Inspector General (OIG) found Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (WOSPI) failed to have an adequate oversight process in place to ensure that 1) local educational agencies’ (LEA) American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) plans met applicable requirements and 2) LEAs use ARP ESSER funds in accordance with applicable requirements and their approved LEA ARP ESSER plans.

OIG's investigation covered March 24, 2021, through October 31, 2022, and involved 1) review of the guidance and technical assistance WOSPI provided to LEAs on allowable uses of funds, 2) review of WOSPI’s processes for monitoring LEAs’ uses of funds and annual Consolidated Program Review (CPR) of selected LEAs, 3) tests of the allowability of a sample of 26 ARP ESSER expenditures at two LEAs, and 4) review LEAs’ adherence to applicable procurement requirements for the sample of 26 expenditures at two LEAs.

The findings include the following:

  • WOSPI failed to have an adequate review and approval process to ensure that LEA ARP ESSER plans met all applicable requirements.
  • The public did not have sufficient insight into how the LEAs planned to spend ARP ESSER funds.
  • WOSPI did not ensure LEAs’ compliance with all Federal requirements and guidance for creating transparent and understandable plans.
  • WOSPI relied on its CPR process to review selected LEA expenditures for compliance with Federal education program requirements; however, it did not modify its CPR process to take into consideration the higher risk associated with ARP ESSER expenditures to ensure selection of APR ESSER expenditures.

OIG provided a draft of its report to WOSPI for comment, but said WOSPI neither agreed nor disagreed with the findings but agreed with the recommendations.

Read the full report to learn more about OIG's findings and recommendations.