Food Stamp Program:

Focus Group Research and Procurement Problems

T-RCED-96-157: Published: May 8, 1996. Publicly Released: May 8, 1996.

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GAO discussed contracting problems involving a Department of Agriculture (USDA) subcontract for surveying the general public's and food stamp recipients' views of food stamp reform initiatives. GAO noted that: (1) USDA did not use normal contracting practices in procuring the subcontracted services; (2) USDA conducted price and scope of work negotiations prior to official contract negotiations and bypassed the appropriate contracting office; (3) USDA should have conducted a separate competitive procurement for the services, since the work done by the subcontractor was outside the scope of work of the original contract; (4) USDA failed to obtain required approval from the Office of Management and Budget before conducting its survey; (5) the approach and methodology used in conducting the survey were inconsistent with achieving the desired purpose of the work; and (6) the subcontractor appeared to target areas and groups of political significance and asked leading questions to produce biased results.

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