Problems Persist in the Puerto Rico Food Stamp Program, the Nation's Largest

CED-78-84: Published: Apr 27, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 1978.

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In 1971, legislation was enacted which authorized the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to participate in the food stamp program; today, the Puerto Rico program is the largest food stamp operation in the nation in terms of both the percentage of population participating and the total value of stamps issued monthly.

Problems have existed in the Puerto Rico program since it began, but little was done in the past by the Commonwealth or the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to solve the problems. Auditors found accountability deficiencies, resulting from problems reported in 1974, and other problems such as: (1) lack of documentation suporting retroactive benefit issuances; (2) inadequate monitoring of Commonwealth personnel who both participated in the program and administered it; and (3) failure to identify questionable authorization card redemptions. Corrective action by the Commonwealth was delayed without adequate explanation. Recently, more substantial actions have been taken to improve program performance. There is a need, however, for improvement in computer system operations in order to correct problems in program service and accountability.

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