USDA Needs Objective Criteria for Awarding Special Disaster Payments

RCED-83-54: Published: Nov 2, 1982. Publicly Released: Dec 1, 1982.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) decision to award special disaster payments estimated between $200 million and $250 million in 83 counties in the Southwest. The review focused on: (1) USDA criteria for designating counties to receive disaster payments, and (2) the equity of the USDA decision concerning counties other than those designated in the Southwest.

GAO found that severe crop losses were sustained by many counties designated to receive special disaster payments, but some counties that received disaster aid had less crop damage than other counties, both in the Southwest region and elsewhere in the country, which were not designated for special payments. The review revealed that USDA did not have objective criteria to apply in designating counties to receive special disaster payments, but USDA officials instead used discretionary authority in an inconsistent manner. GAO believes that these payments should be awarded on objective criteria applied uniformly throughout the country.

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 Agriculture should establish objective criteria to be used in awarding special disaster payments.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture


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