Food Assistance:

Financial Information on WIC Nutrition Services and Administrative Costs

RCED-00-66: Published: Mar 6, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on various costs aspects of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), focusing on the: (1) federal and nonfederal sources and amounts of funding and in-kind contributions received by state-level and local WIC agencies and Indian tribal organizations for WIC nutrition services and administration; (2) amount and type of expenditures for nutrition services and administration made by these agencies and Indian tribal organizations; and (3) extent to which the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and Department of Agriculture (USDA) identified questionable expenditures for nutrition services and administration during their evaluations of these activities.

GAO noted that: (1) state-level WIC agencies and Indian tribal organizations responding to GAO's survey received federal funds totalling about $1.08 billion for WIC nutrition services and administration in fiscal year (FY) 1998; (2) in addition to these federal funds, state-level agencies and local WIC agencies and Indian tribal organizations reported receiving another $57 million for nutrition services and administration from nonfederal sources; (3) most of these additional funds came from state and local governments; (4) of the approximately $1.14 billion in total available resources, local WIC agencies received about $846 million; (5) in addition to these funds, some state-level WIC and most Indian tribal organizations reported receiving in-kind contributions; (6) of the $1.14 billion available, about $1.1 billion was expended for WIC nutrition services and administration in FY 1998; (7) about three-fourths ($846 million) of these expenditures were made for local WIC agency operations; (8) the 55 state-level WIC agencies responding to GAO's survey reported that about $232 million, 21 percent, was for state-level operations; (9) the 33 Indian tribal organizations spent a total of about $13 million in FY 1998, of which about $9.5 million was expended by the Indian tribal organizations responding to GAO's survey; (10) salary and benefit costs accounted for the largest percentage of direct costs for state-level and local WIC agencies and Indian tribal organizations; (11) in its management evaluations of FY 1998 operations, FNS found few WIC expenditures for nutrition services and administration that were questionable under the program's regulations; (12) FNS conducted 41 WIC evaluations of state-level agencies and Indian tribal organizations' operations in FY 1998; (13) of these 41 evaluations, 9 contained one or more questions about the program's expenditures; (14) five of the nine evaluations identified questionable expenditures--totalling $54,296--made by three state-level WIC agencies and two Indian tribal organizations; (15) this total amount represented less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the almost $79 million in combined expenditures for nutrition services and administration for these three state-level WIC agencies and two Indian tribal organizations; (16) as of January 2000, USDA's Office of Inspector General had no reports available on WIC's FY 1998 expenditures; and (17) however, the Office of Inspector General's audits are sometimes conducted several years after the year of the expenditures.

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