Information on a Department of Agriculture Claim Against the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

CED-77-40: Published: Feb 24, 1977. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1977.

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A $2.5 million claim of the U.S. Government against the Department of Social Services of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico concerned losses through spoilage or infestation of Federally donated food during and after the phaseout of the needy family food donation program.

The losses involved occurred during a period when: the amount of commodities donated reached a peak; purchase and shipment problems were encountered; adequate information about warehouse facilities was not available; local transportation was unreliable; and Commonwealth money and staff to operate the program were dwindling. Commonwealth officials knew that the Department of Agriculture had increased the commodity amounts previously requisitioned for the needy family program. A Department table showing quantities and values of commodity losses became a primary basis for the claim. The Department of Social Services held official destruction or other records on the actual disposition of about 14 percent of the commodity quantities listed in the claim. In 1976, the Commonwealth made a proposal disclaiming any responsibility for the $2.5 million claim, but offered to settle the entire claim with the replacement in kind of $198,000 of cheese. As of January, 1977, claim settlement has been suspended pending completion of an investigation to account for final disposition of all commodities.

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