Team Nutrition:

Some Procurement and Personnel Management Requirements Not Followed

T-RCED-96-247: Published: Sep 18, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 18, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Team Nutrition contracts, cooperative agreement, and grant for multimedia nutrition education. GAO noted that: (1) Team Nutrition officials acted improperly in assigning tasks under the the Global contract and did not follow normal contracting procedures in dealing with Global's subcontractors; (2) Team Nutrition officials did not provide the technical direction that another contractor needed to perform several tasks; (3) Team Nutrition failed to determine the message that children were receiving from the Team Nutrition Initiative advertisement; (4) the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FCS) violated federal ethics regulations by participating in the administration of this grant; (5) FCS improperly reviewed the former project manager's employment application, academic credentials, and financial disclosure statements; (6) USDA management problems resulted from USDA failure to follow agency procedures and its lack of a strategic plan for the Team Nutrition Initiative; and (7) FCS has taken steps to improve its procurement and personnel practices, including establishing new operational procedures, increasing reporting responsibilities, requiring procurement administration training, establishing an agency ombudsman to handle procurement improprieties, tightening procedures for the applications process, reviewing applicant documentation, and intensifying collection of employee financial disclosure statements.

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