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    Subject Term: "Food assistance programs"

    9 publications with a total of 32 open recommendations including 5 priority recommendations
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should develop, document, and implement a process for periodically conducting systematic, targeted financial reviews of Title II development and emergency projects. Such reviews should include efforts to verify that actual costs incurred for these projects align with planned budgets.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it is exploring options to develop a new process for conducting systematic, targeted financial reviews. As of September 2017, we will continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should ensure that its requirements for implementing partners to provide monitoring data on an ongoing basis on the use of 202(e) funding for cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement are consistent for Title II development and emergency projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has updated its Food for Peace development award template, and programs are now required to provide quarterly reports on cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement. As of September 2017, we are following up with USAID to confirm the actions taken in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should take steps to ensure that it collects complete and consistent monitoring data from implementing partners for Title II development and emergency projects on the use of 202(e) funding for cash transfers, food vouchers, and local and regional procurement as well as data on the use of Title II funding for internal transportation, storage, and handling (ITSH) costs, in accordance with established requirements.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has taken actions in response to this recommendation including hiring staff and providing training to support adherence to award requirements. As of September 2017, we continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should update key guidance and systems to consistently reflect allowable uses of ITSH funds in Title II development and emergency projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it is updating guidance and exploring other options to further clarify ITSH and 202(e) funding distinctions, in response to this recommendation. As of September 2017, we will continue to monitor USAID's actions in response to the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To enhance USAID's financial oversight of implementing partners' spending to implement and support Title II development and emergency projects, the USAID Administrator should establish a requirement for Title II development project partners to conduct and document comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans for cash transfers and food vouchers funded by 202(e), and take steps to ensure that implementing partners adhere to the requirement.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, USAID informed us that it has inserted a requirement for partners to conduct and document comprehensive risk assessments and mitigation plans for activities including cash transfers and food vouchers into its FY 2017 Request for Applications for Food for Peace development activities, and that new Title II development awards will require partners to adhere to the requirement. As of September 2017, we continue to monitor USAID's actions taken in response to this recommendation.
    Director: Jessica Farb
    Phone: (202) 512-6991

    10 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Millennium Challenge Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter provided to GAO in May 2017, MCC stated that it had responded to our finding that MCC needed to more clearly document the independence of its evaluators and fully disclose any potential conflicts of interest in the published final evaluations. In response to this recommendation, MCC revised its standard evaluator contract language and now requires the evaluator's independence, and any potential conflicts of interest, be fully documented in the published evaluation report. GAO will follow up on documentation of this and any other steps responsive to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, DOD provided a response to our final report, dated March 30, 2017. The response noted that, in January 2017, the Department established policy on assessment, monitoring, and evaluation (AM&E) for security cooperation with the goal of improving the quality of program evaluation across the Department. DOD also stated that it would review best practices for AM&E to determine those that are best suited for security assistance, and will discuss our findings and recommendations with the independent evaluator who conducts security assistance evaluations and encourage them to consider the recommendations in future evaluations. GAO will review the January 2017 guidance and will follow-up on specific steps taken by the DOD to incorporate best practices.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a response to GAO in May 2017, HHS stated that the CDC Operationalization of the Evaluation Standards of Practice (ESOP) was updated in January 2017 and provides guidance on evaluation planning, protocol development, implementation, reporting, dissemination, and use of evaluation results, as well as reporting requirements. HHS also stated that it now reviews all evaluation and performance monitoring plans and assess report quality at several stages prior to publication and has begun to provide webinars and templates for evaluators to ensure that standards are addressed and reflected in the report. GAO will review the updated documents and request documentation of the actions taken for responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated March 31, 2017, State reported that it would be expanding its evaluation policy into the new Program Design and Performance Management Policy for Programs, Projects, and Processes, expected to be in place by summer 2017. The policy and its implementation, along with the recently published Program Design and Performance Management toolkit, as well as updated policy guidance, constitute State's plan to improve evaluations. GAO will review the updated policy when it is released for its responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability and usefulness of program evaluations for agency program and budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC, the Administrator of USAID, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services (in cooperation with State's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy) should each develop a plan for improving the quality of evaluations for the programs included in our review, focusing on areas where our analysis has shown the largest areas for potential improvement.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter provided to GAO in follow-up to our report, USAID stated that steps already taken include (1)recently updating and clarifying the requirements and quality standards for evaluations and (2) working to ensure that staff has the skills they need to manage evaluations through training and other capacity building actions. As of September 2017, GAO is reviewing the updated guidance and actions against the specific findings in our report to assess their responsiveness in addressing our findings.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update its guidance and practices on the posting of evaluations to require President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) evaluations to be posted within the timeframe required by PEPFAR guidance.

    Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a response to GAO in May 2017, HHS stated that the CDC, as of December 2016, now provides guidance noting that each new evaluation protocol specifically state that a report on the main findings of an evaluation will be produced in alignment with the PEPFAR ESOP and posted (in English) on a publically accessible website within 90 days of completion. GAO will review the updated document for responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Chief Executive Officer of MCC should adjust MCC evaluation practices to make evaluation reports available within the timeframe required by MCC guidance.

    Agency: Millennium Challenge Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter provided to GAO in May 2017, MCC stated that it had initiated a re-design of its evaluation monitoring information system to provide MCC with detailed timelines of each component of the evaluation review and publication process. GAO will follow up on documentation of this and any other steps responsive to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of State should amend State's evaluation policy to require the completion of dissemination plans for all agency evaluations

    Agency: Department of State
    Status: Open

    Comments: In a letter dated March 31, 2017, State reported that it would be expanding its evaluation policy into the new Program Design and Performance Management Policy for Programs, Projects, and Processes, expected to be in place by summer 2017. State reported that it would add a requirement for dissemination plans to the new policy. GAO will review the updated policy when it is released for its responsiveness to our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the evaluation findings reach their intended audiences and are available to facilitate incorporating lessons learned into future program design or budget decisions, the Secretary of Agriculture should implement guidance and procedures for making FAS evaluations available online and searchable on a single website that can be accessed by the general public.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's monitoring and evaluation of cash transfer and food voucher projects and help ensure improved program oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should take steps to ensure that final reports submitted for cash transfer and food voucher projects comply with USAID's minimum data requirements.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, USAID said it had entered into an institutional support contract in December 2016 to address this recommendation. Support staff under this contract will be responsible for assisting each geographic team to ensure that implementing partners adhere to existing award processes and procedures, including compliance with reporting on minimum data requirements. USAID noted that the revised target completion date is 9/30/2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's monitoring and evaluation of cash transfer and food voucher projects and help ensure improved program oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should strengthen the indicators USAID uses to measure the timeliness, cost-effectiveness, and appropriateness of Emergency Food Security Program cash transfer and food voucher projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2017, USAID stated that it released an updated Annual Program Statement for Emergency Food Assistance Programs in December 2016, which addresses this recommendation. As implementation provides data to support a closure request, USAID anticipates completing this recommendation in Fiscal Year 2017. The revised target completion date is 9/30/2017.
    Director: Brenda S. Farrell
    Phone: (202) 512-3604

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To more fully understand the food assistance needs that exist for active-duty servicemembers and their families, and to help ensure that DOD effectively targets its support to those in need of assistance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to revise, as appropriate, any existing data-collection mechanisms, such as periodic surveys, to collect and analyze more complete data on the use of food assistance programs by servicemembers and their families and use the data to determine if any further actions are needed, such as assigning responsibilities at the department-level for monitoring the use of food assistance programs by active-duty servicemembers.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, The Department of Defense (DOD) revised the questions on the September 2016 Status of Force Survey of Active Duty Members to include questions on whether servicemembers and their families had in the past 12 months run out of food, skipped meals, or were unable to eat balanced meals due to a lack of money. The survey also included questions on whether the servicemembers or their families had used food pantries in the past twelve months and asked the servicemembers to identify the factors that had contributed to their food concerns and/or need to use a food pantry. Finally, the survey included questions on the extent servicemember had ever applied for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), whether they were currently receiving SNAP benefits, their paygrade at the time they first started receiving SNAP benefits, the total number of people in the household when they first started receiving SNAP benefits, and how long they have received SNAP benefits. DOD official stated that the results of the survey were not published until July 31, 2017 so they have not had the opportunity to review the results of the survey to determine what further actions, if any, are needed.
    Recommendation: To more fully understand the food assistance needs that exist for active-duty servicemembers and their families, and to help ensure that DOD effectively targets its support to those in need of assistance, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to coordinate with USDA to leverage its access to data on active-duty servicemembers and their families who use its programs and services and consider outreaching to other organizations that have data on servicemembers' use of food assistance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, DOD has not provided information on steps it has taken to address this recommendation. When more information becomes available, we will update the recommendation?s status accordingly.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to monitor Title II conditional food aid and evaluate food-for-assets activities' impact on reducing food insecurity, the USAID Administrator should establish a mechanism to readily identify all Title II projects that include conditional food aid activities and systematically collect information about the type of conditional activity included in each project.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, USAID concurred with the recommendation and stated its intention to establish a mechanism to readily identify all Title II projects that include conditional food aid activities and to collect information about the type of conditional activity in each project through the Food for Peace Management Information System. USAID also noted that it is already collecting such information for the Emergency Food Security Program, another food assistance program. As of May 2017, GAO continues to monitor USAID's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to monitor Title II conditional food aid and evaluate food-for-assets activities' impact on reducing food insecurity, the USAID Administrator should systematically assess the effectiveness of food-for-assets activities in development projects in achieving project goals and objectives.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: In written comments on our draft report, USAID concurred with the recommendation. In September 2016, USAID stated that it had undertaken relevant reviews of the effectiveness and sustainability of Title II development projects and that it is considering expanding evaluations of completed projects to assess sustainability of results over time. As of May 2017, GAO continues to monitor USAID's efforts to fully address the recommendation.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: While recognizing that cargo preference serves policy goals established by Congress with respect to the U.S. merchant marine, including maintenance of a fleet capable of serving as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, Congress should consider clarifying cargo preference legislation regarding the definition of "geographic area" to ensure that agencies can fully utilize the flexibility Congress granted to them when it lowered the CPFA requirement.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: We did not receive comments on the Matter for Congressional Consideration. As of March 2017, no legislation had been introduced to clarify the definition of 'geographic area' with regard to cargo preference laws.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Administrator of MARAD to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. In the study, MARAD should identify potential solutions to address the mariner shortfall if one is still identified.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its written comments, DOT concurred with our recommendation to study the potential availability of all qualified mariners needed to meet a full and prolonged activation of the reserve sealift fleet. DOT stated that MARAD has been reviewing the adequacy of existing plans to recruit mariner volunteers to crew the full reserve fleet. Furthermore, DOT noted that 13,000 mariners are required to crew all the vessels in the fleet for sustained operations. On June 15, 2016, GAO contacted MARAD officials to clarify the current status of the National Maritime Strategy, which DOT officials had stated would contain the results of their review. The officials said that the Strategy is still in the interagency process for approval and is not likely to be published until the end of 2016. DOT told GAO in December 2016 that it had conducted an exercise in September 2016 to test mariner availability for an initial activation of the full fleet. However, this exercise did not fully address GAO's recommendation, as it did not test for a full and prolonged activation of the fleet. Furthermore, DOT officials told GAO in April 2017 that the National Maritime Strategy has not been released and is awaiting review from the current Administration.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen its management of cash-based food assistance projects and help ensure improved oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should develop policy and comprehensive guidance for USAID staff and implementing partners for financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation in its comments to the March 2015 GAO report. In June 2016, USAID reported that it would work with the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP) on the development and dissemination of policy and guidance related to financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects. In April 2017, USAID stated that it is continuing to work with CaLP and provide training for FFP staff and implementing partners for the oversight and management of cash-based food assistance programs, including courses related to the financial oversight. However, as of April 2017, USAID had not completed any guidance for USAID staff and implementing partners for financial oversight of cash-based food assistance projects.
    Recommendation: To strengthen its management of cash-based food assistance projects and help ensure improved oversight of these projects, the USAID Administrator should require USAID staff to conduct systematic financial oversight of USAID's cash-based food assistance projects in the field.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation in its comments to the March 2015 GAO report. In January 2017, USAID stated that it was continuing to pursue training opportunities for staff in response to this recommendation. However, USAID, as of April 2017, had not completed efforts to address the recommendation. GAO will continue to monitor USAID's efforts to require staff to conduct systematic financial oversight and determine the extent to which the training and third monitoring will address this issue.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to improve USDA's ability to account for U.S. government funds by ensuring that USAID provides USDA with accurate prepositioned commodity inventory data that USDA can independently verify.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, according to USDA officials, they are aware that USAID is working on a Statement of Work for a system to track prepositioned commodity inventory data.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to improve USDA's ability to account for U.S. government funds by ensuring that USAID provides USDA with accurate prepositioned commodity inventory data that USDA can independently verify.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USAID plans to have a contract to develop a system to track prepositioned commodity inventory data, by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to assess WBSCM's functionality by testing the international procurement functions that have been modified since April 2011 and documenting the results.

    Agency: Department of Agriculture
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USDA has held multiple meetings with USAID as part of its Business Management Improvement initiative, to assess Web Based Supply Chain Management's (WBSCM) functionality and test the international procurement functions, and have documented some of the results of some of those meetings.
    Recommendation: To improve the efficiency and accountability of the emergency food aid procurement process, the Secretary of Agriculture and Administrator of USAID should direct their staffs to work together to take steps to assess WBSCM's functionality by testing the international procurement functions that have been modified since April 2011 and documenting the results.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, USAID has participated in multiple meetings with USDA to assess Web Based Supply Chain Management's (WBSCM) functionality and test the international procurement functions, and are gathering documentation from this process. According to USAID officials, they plan to submit documentation to GAO to close this recommendation by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Director: Thomas Melito
    Phone: (202) 512-9601

    3 open recommendations
    including 3 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically collect, and ensure the reliability and validity of, data on delivery time frames for all emergency food aid shipments, including prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that Food for Peace (FFP) was reviewing what actions are needed to ensure that reliable data on delivery time frames for all emergency aid is collected from cooperating sponsors. In 2015, USAID officials noted that they were exploring options for developing a prepositioning tracking system, but were still in the early stages. As of April 2017, the new system has yet to be operational.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically monitor and assess data on delivery time frames for prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that it awarded a contract for an independent evaluation of the timeliness of prepositioning activities, which, along with the GAO report, will inform the ongoing revision to FFP's strategy for the prepositioning program. As of April 2017, USAID has yet to address this recommendation of systematically monitoring and assessing data on delivery time frames for prepositioned food aid shipments.
    Recommendation: To strengthen USAID's ability to help ensure that its food aid prepositioning program meets the goal of reducing delivery time frames in a cost-effective manner, the USAID Administrator should systematically monitor and assess costs associated with commodity procurement, shipping, and storage for prepositioned food aid shipments.

    Agency: United States Agency for International Development
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: USAID concurred with this recommendation and noted that it awarded a contract for an independent evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of prepositioning activities, which, along with the GAO report, will inform the ongoing revision to FFP's strategy for the prepositioning program. As of April 2017, USAID has yet to address this recommendation on systematically monitoring and assessing costs associated with commodity procurement, shipping, and storage for prepositioned food aid shipments.