The Office of Inspector General (OIG) released its latest report detailing problems with the Department of Family Support and Services (DFSS) scoring system for agencies that help the city address homelessness. It found DFSS employees had “scored delegate agency applications inaccurately and inconsistently,” erring in monitoring some of the 57 agencies that help the roughly 6300 homeless people living in Chicago.
DFSS spent roughly $60M on “delegate agencies” that help the homeless between 2013 and 2014, with most of that money coming from federal grants. Given the small sample size of the investigation, the OIG’s office couldn’t conclude whether every agency given DFSS funds after review was the best candidate.
DFSS chooses agencies through an RFP process, and monitors chosen agencies through audits to check they’re in compliance with their contracts. According to the OIG’s report, finding, funding and monitoring delegate agencies that cover the whole city is a challenge, and “the Department told us that the number of applications it had to review and the time it had to review them led it to choose expediency over thoroughness.”
The report found a number of errors in DFSS audits, including giving agencies undeserved points, miscounting total scores, and failing to follow up on “red flag” reports where auditors came up with different scores for facilities.
In response to the OIG’s findings, DFSS put a new automated scoring system in place that “minimizes human error in proposal scoring,” and noted OIG’s audit span was a particularly busy time for the Department. DFSS also responded to OIG findings on how DFSS holds agencies accountable for report inaccuracies, saying it “will follow-up with the agencies that have been identified as having inconsistent data, via performance letters issued at least twice a year.” It’s also using new training to ensure negative findings don’t slip through the Department’s program monitoring audit tool.
In a press release, Inspector General Joe Ferguson praised DFSS’ response. “Choosing the most qualified agencies and ensuring that those agencies comply with local and federal program requirements are critical to providing quality service to a population that is unlikely to advocate for itself. DFSS’ response to our audit findings reflects a clear resolve to the continuing improvement of both.”