Publicly Released: April 4, 2022
The objective of this audit was to determine whether U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), U.S. Indo‑Pacific Command, and U.S. Southern Command officials used Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to support the coronavirus disease–2019 (COVID‑19) pandemic response and operations in accordance with Federal laws and DoD policies. This report focused on USAFRICOM’s execution of CARES Act funding. We will issue separate reports on the execution of CARES Act funding by the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and the U.S. Southern Command. See Appendix A for details on the audit scope and methodology.
USAFRICOM’s area of responsibility covers 53 African states, more than 800 ethnic groups, over 1,000 languages, and a land mass of 11.2 million square miles and nearly 19,000 miles of coastland. COVID-19 is an infectious disease that can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms. In March 2020, the President of the United States declared the COVID-19 outbreak an emergency and signed the CARES Act that provided $10.5 billion in supplemental funding for the DoD COVID-19 response. DoD CARES Act funds were primarily intended to prepare for, prevent, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, domestically and internationally.
Army and Defense Security Cooperation Agency officials provided approximately $26.2 million in CARES Act funds to USAFRICOM—$5 million for 2 information technology (IT) improvements and $21.2 million for 27 projects to enhance the medical capabilities of USAFRICOM partner nations. USAFRICOM officials executed $26.15 million in CARES Act funds to support these 29 projects.
CARES Act funding guidance—issued by the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)/Chief Financial Officer, DoD—requires that USAFRICOM officials maintain evidence for goods and services acquired in response to COVID-19. The guidance further states that adequate evidence must include clear and accurate data to support the need for the acquired goods and services.
USAFRICOM officials used CARES Act funding to support COVID-19 pandemic response and operations in accordance with Federal laws and DoD policies. Specifically, for 28 of 29 projects reviewed, USAFRICOM officials used $26.07 million in CARES Act funds to prepare for, prevent, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, as intended by the CARES Act. USAFRICOM officials justified the use of CARES Act funds for:
- 2 IT equipment and support projects, valued at $4.95 million, to support the design and installation of a virtual desktop infrastructure system that provided additional remote connectivity during the maximum telework environment.
- 26 humanitarian assistance projects, valued at $21.13 million, primarily to provide mobile field hospitals, personal protective equipment, and other pandemic-related items for medical personnel, school students, school faculty, and communities at high‑risk for COVID-19 infection across Africa.
However, for 1 of the 29 projects reviewed, USAFRICOM officials initially used $74,000 in CARES Act funds for overseas natural disaster relief, which was not a purpose specified in the CARES Act. During the audit, USAFRICOM officials confirmed that CARES Act funds were incorrectly used to execute the project and retroactively adjusted the project’s funding source to the DoD overseas humanitarian assistance and disaster relief funds, correcting the error.
The proper execution of USAFRICOM’s CARES Act funds strengthens public trust in the DoD’s ability to safeguard taxpayer dollars and provides Congress with greater assurance that CARES Act funds were spent to address DoD requirements and partner nation requests for the COVID-19 pandemic response.
This report is the result of Project No. D2021-D000RH-0142.000.