Operation of USDA's Special Dairy Distribution Program in Nashville, TN

RCED-83-239: Published: Sep 14, 1983. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 1983.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO described the results of its review of the operation of the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) special dairy distribution program in Nashville, Tennessee.

Subsequent to a newspaper report that large quantities of Government-owned dairy products were being stored in local warehouses, the Mayor of Nashville requested surplus butter and cheese for a monthly distribution that the city had scheduled. Although the USDA Regional Administrator advised the Mayor that butter and cheese would be made available prior to the date requested, there was confusion and conflicting information about the availability of uncommitted products in a warehouse and the length of time it would take to fulfill the Mayor's request. At the time of the Mayor's request, Nashville was not approved by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) as a food bank, a prerequisite for ordering dairy products. Because the city had received dairy products very rapidly in a previous case, city officials were misled into believing that all requests for dairy products could be filled as quickly. FNS officials had mistakenly advised city and State officials that no products were readily available when they actually were available. In addition, city officials did not realize the amount of time required to locate the most appropriate products and arrange for their transportation to the requester. Therefore, although Nashville received cheese and butter in time for its scheduled distribution, city officials were concerned about the management of the special distribution program.

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