According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a report on Monday morning, there are several issues that need attention from Congress and the White House.
That includes “the need to collect reliable data that can drive decision-making; to establish mechanisms for accountability and transparency; and to protect against ongoing cyber threats to patient information, intellectual property, public health data, and intelligence,” the agency said in a release.
The $1,200 checks were sent out as part of the CARES Act, which was passed in a bipartisan manner in March.
But some 8.7 million Americans are possibly at risk of losing out on receiving the stimulus payment, the agency said.
“Our report contains 16 new, concrete recommendations where timely and concerted actions by the administration and Congress can help address the coronavirus crisis,” said Gene L. Dodaro, the head of the GAO. “If implemented, those suggestions have the potential to significantly improve the nation’s response to the current pandemic as well as strengthen preparations for future public health emergencies.”
The GAO also called on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do a better job in providing guidance to local schools on when they can reopen in the midst of the pandemic caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus.
Notably, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has implemented several of the GAO’s recommendations after it released a report in June about making sure those who were eligible for payments could receive them, the agency added.
But the GAO said that the Treasury Department and the IRS have still failed to update information on how many eligible individuals have yet to receive their payments.
“The lack of such information could hinder outreach efforts and place potentially millions of individuals at risk of missing their payment. GAO recommends that Treasury, in coordination with IRS, update and refine the estimate of eligible recipients who have yet to file for an EIP to help target outreach and communications efforts,” said the news release.
At the same time, more governmental audit guidance is needed for some CCP virus-related programs “as soon as possible, as many audit efforts are underway,” said the GAO.
Under the payment program, all adults earning up to $75,000 in adjusted gross income annually were entitled to $1,200. That amount steadily declined for those earning more and was phased out entirely for people earning over $99,000. Up to $500 per qualifying child also was paid. The economic impact payments were made by the IRS using direct deposit, paper checks, and debit cards. The total appropriated by Congress for the economic payments was $282 billion.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.