Legal Services Corporation: Improvements Needed in Governance, Accountability, and Grants Management and Oversight

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discuss GAO's recent reviews of Legal Services Corporation's (LSC) governance, accountability and grants management practices. LSC's mission is to make federal funding available to provide legal assistance in civil matters to low-income people throughout the United States on everyday legal problems. LSC pursues this mission by providing financial assistance, mostly through grants to legal service providers (grant recipients or grantees) who serve low-income members of the community who would otherwise not be able to afford legal assistance (clients). Established by a federal charter in 1974 as ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. May 22, 2008.

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Testimony issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "This testimony discuss GAO's recent reviews of Legal Services Corporation's (LSC) governance, accountability and grants management practices. LSC's mission is to make federal funding available to provide legal assistance in civil matters to low-income people throughout the United States on everyday legal problems. LSC pursues this mission by providing financial assistance, mostly through grants to legal service providers (grant recipients or grantees) who serve low-income members of the community who would otherwise not be able to afford legal assistance (clients). Established by a federal charter in 1974 as a federally funded, private nonprofit corporation, LSC is highly dependent on federal appropriations for its operations. LSC received $348.6 million in appropriations for fiscal year 2007, which made up about 99 percent of its total funding. In 2007, LSC served clients through 137 grantees with more than 900 offices serving all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and current and former U.S. territories. LSC uses the majority of its funding to provide grants to local legal-service providers. Funds are distributed based on the number of low-income persons living within a service area, with some grantees maintaining several offices within their service area. LSC management is responsible for ensuring that grant funds are used for their intended purposes and in accordance with laws and regulations. Thus, LSC is accountable for the effectiveness of its own internal controls and for providing oversight and monitoring of grantees' internal controls, use of grant funds, and compliance with laws and regulations. LSC's Board of Directors is responsible for carrying out fiduciary responsibilities in overseeing LSC management's operations and use of appropriated funds. In recent years, governance and accountability processes have received increased scrutiny and emphasis in the nonprofit, federal agency, and public company sectors as a result of governance and accountability breakdowns. Public companies now operate under strengthened governance and accountability standards, including requirements for ethics policies and improved internal controls. The federal government and nonprofit sectors have followed this lead and established new standards and requirements for improved internal control reporting and governance and accountability. For nonprofit corporations using funding from taxpayers and donors, effective governance, accountability, and internal control are key to maintaining trust and credibility. Governance and accountability breakdowns result in a lack of trust from donors, grantors, and appropriators, which could ultimately put funding and the organization's credibility at risk. The current period of economic hardship for many workers and their families' highlights the importance of LSC's mission and the efficient and effective use of taxpayers' dollars to achieve that mission. This testimony highlights our key findings on LSC's governance and accountability practices, as well as the internal control improvements needed in LSC's grants management and oversight to increase assurance that federal funds are being properly spent and its operations are effectively carried out to meet its mission of providing legal assistance to low-income people."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • May 22, 2008

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  • June 11, 2014, 5:03 a.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Legal Services Corporation: Improvements Needed in Governance, Accountability, and Grants Management and Oversight, text, May 22, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc294737/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.