Changes Are Needed in the Proposed Departmental Review and Evaluation of the Puerto Rico Block Grant

CED-82-50: Published: Feb 24, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 24, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) proposed study of Puerto Rico's transition from the Food Stamp Program to the Puerto Rico Block Grant which is part of the USDA Nutritional Assistance Grant.

GAO believes that the limited objectives of the preliminary study plans do not fully address the grant's primary objective to provide nutritional assistance to the needy and could therefore restrict the usefulness of the data gathered. FNS proposes to: (1) develop a case study to describe the conversion from the Food Stamp Program to the grant; and (2) estimate the impact of the grant on the participation rates, benefits, and program costs. Also, GAO believes that a complete and timely impact assessment of the new program is important to measure the grant's impact on recipient benefits and participation within Puerto Rico and to assist other States in designing and implementing a nutritional assistance program if the Food Stamp Program is turned back to the States. The second area of concern for GAO is that the methodology section of the proposed plan needs additional development. However, nothing more will be done to develop the study until Puerto Rico releases its operational plan. Some of the methodology for program assessment is independent of program specifics. For example, the preliminary study plan indicates that an abbreviated time-series design will be used to estimate cost impact. Since the time-series analysis is based upon data that are already available, the design detail could be developed to show that it will provide answers to questions of interest and concern and that the study can be operable when the new program is initiated.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Department of Agriculture should direct the Acting Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to expand and modify the FNS preliminary evaluation plan along the lines discussed in this report to fully address the legislative objectives of the Nutritional Assistance Grant and to provide for a more comprehensive plan of data collection and analysis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture


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