OIG finds NCUA’s COVID-19 work posture took into account expert guidance, reliable info

A self-initiated inspector general review of the federal credit union regulator’s work posture during the COVID-19 pandemic shows the agency “took actions designed to protect the health and safety of staff in response to COVID-19 that were based on reliable information and expert guidance,” according to an IG report dated last Friday.

“Although we found minor weaknesses in some internal controls related to the agency’s onsite approval and health self-certification processes, management changed these processes during our audit and no longer follows the processes we originally reviewed. As a result, we have no findings and therefore are not making any recommendations at this time,” according to the report by the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA) Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The audit reviewed policies, procedures, and guidance the NCUA issued from January 2020 through September 2021 related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report states.

According to the report, the NCUA on March 16, 2020, mandated offsite work and did not permit staff to come to the office or perform work at a credit union, except on an exception basis approved by the NCUA’s Office of the Executive Director (OED). To determine whether and when to permit staff to return to in-person work, the agency monitored COVID-19 information received in meetings with other federal financial regulators agencies and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Johns Hopkins University COVID dashboard, CDC recommendations, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), it said. The agency also hired a public health consultant to provide guidance as it makes its decisions and kept staff informed throughout.

While requiring work to be done offsite, the report states, the NCUA provided an allowance for supplies to office-based staff, which previously was provided only to field and remote staff; created a special leave category related to COVID-19 and offered other options for employees unable to fulfill their work requirements; provided staff with personal protective equipment; and performed building safety measures, the report states.

The report states that the agency began reopening offices for work in July but is following a phased approach that takes into account local conditions. In September, it issued a requirement that all staff (with some exceptions) be vaccinated for COVID-19, consistent with a federal executive order (E.O. 14043).

Report #OIG-21-10: Audit of the NCUA’s COVID-19 Work Posture (Dec. 10, 2021)