Actions Needed To Improve the Nutrition Program for the Elderly

HRD-78-58: Published: Feb 23, 1978. Publicly Released: Feb 23, 1978.

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Through provisions of title VII of the Older Americans Act, inexpensive, nutritionally sound meals, supportive services, and opportunities for socialization and recreation are provided to the Nation's elderly. To fulfill its oversight responsibilities, the Administration on Aging (AOA) has an information system which requires States to submit quarterly program performance reports and financial status reports.

The information system was not designed to support program management, and its usefulness is limited because of low priorities placed on reporting procedures, system changes, inconsistent data, and unreliable feedback to State agencies. Better data on program performance would help the States in managing the program and the AOA in identifying problems. Other problems noted were: inadequate controls over contributions received, a need for improvements in protecting confidentiality of recipients, income from meal contributions was not used in some instances, audits were not always performed and did not always include reviews of meal contributions, some States provided incorrect information on the number of meals served to the Department of Agriculture for its use in making commodity allocations, commodities in excess of needs were provided by the States to some projects, some caterers experienced difficulty in using commodities, and in some instances the quality and form of packaging limited commodity usage.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare should require AOA to: develop a model management information system as a suggested guide for the States and provide technical assistance for the development of adequate State systems; develop instructions for completing program performance reports; provide meaningful reports to State agencies on national program performance; emphasize to the States the need to collect basic information on amounts of meal contributions; emphasize to the States the need to improve internal controls over meal contributions; emphasize the importance of independent audits; encourage grantees to use the proper means of protecting confidentiality; revise program regulations to encourage prompt use of program income; emphasize to the States the need to collect the necessary data on Department of Agriculture commodities; work with the Secretary of Agriculture to establish procedures to maximize the use of commodities in caterer-prepared meals and to identify problems with State commodity distribution systems; and establish procedures to insure that nutrition projects' views on commodity preferences are included in information provided to the Department of Agriculture.

    Agency Affected:

 

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