Food Stamp Program:

Error Rate Adjustments and Sanctions

RCED-88-10: Published: Oct 22, 1987. Publicly Released: Oct 27, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) procedures for adjusting states' Food Stamp Program error rates to account for uncompleted state quality control reviews.

GAO found that: (1) adjustments for uncompleted case reviews were relatively small for 1984 and 1985; (2) only one state suffered an increased sanction because of an error-rate adjustment; (3) adjustments may vary for states with similar review completion rates; (4) some states with similar completion rates received different adjustments; (5) the variations occurred because FNS considered regressed error rates and error-rate standard deviations in determining adjustments; and (6) FNS followed its usual rulemaking process in setting the adjustment procedure.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: According to USDA, the Hunger Prevention Act eliminated the step function used in the sanction computation, thereby, eliminating the reason for this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator, FNS, to devise a sanction process that separates financial penalties for uncompleted reviews from financial penalties for exceeding the target error rate. An alternative for doing so could entail a graduated sanction based on the extent to which states do not complete the prescribed number of reviews.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture


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