HHS and the Catholic Church: Examining the Politicization of Grants

Hearing Date: December 1, 2011 12:00 am

Chairman Issa Hearing Preview Statement

The Obama Administration has pledged to be the most transparent in history. Unfortunately, today, we are presented with an example of how that goal is not being met and an opportunity to understand how the federal grant-making process has been politicized.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has begun an investigation into the process used by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement to award grants that fund many types of care and services.

That investigation has uncovered many disturbing facts about the grant awards process, including: the most experienced and top rated national applicant was not selected, and lower-ranked organizations were somehow funded. The process was delayed for months while the agency struggled to find ways to inject new criteria into the process, and—of great concern—the judgment of experienced, career-level professionals was discarded when political appointees chose to overrule transparent decision-making.

These actions appear to constitute an abuse of discretion and undermine the integrity of the process, while potentially violating the spirit, if not the letter, of federal laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination based on religious beliefs.

Today’s hearing will assess this grant-making process, seek to make public the truth about the politicization of this process, and provide to the public, an example of how the absence of transparency creates an environment where abuse can flourish.

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
Mr. George Sheldon Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Document
Mr. Eskinder Negash Director, Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [Will not deliver opening statement for the record]