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GAO reviewed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) use of the Authorization-to-Participate (ATP) system, the Food Stamp Program's principal benefit delivery method. The purpose of the review was to make a preliminary assessment of the Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) efforts to ensure the integrity of the system, which will deliver about $8 billion of the estimated $10.6 billion in food stamp benefits in fiscal year 1982.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture 1. The Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Acting Administrator, FNS, to take specific measures to improve the ATP system's fiscal integrity, including: (1) determining those elements of existing ATP delivery systems, which are most effective in preventing program losses, and direct that the more effective methodologies be used where appropriate; (2) verifying data on the reconciliation reports by reviewing food stamp agencies' ATP issuance and reconciliation systems and records, identifying through these reviews food stamp agencies that may be more likely to have recurring duplicate ATP transactions, and analyzing these weaker systems and requiring the food stamp agencies to correct flaws contributing to program losses; (3) requiring photo identification at all food stamp agencies experiencing significant duplicate ATP transactions but not currently covered by the regulations; (4) enforcing program regulations making states and local food stamp agencies liable for program losses that should have been prevented; and (5) reevaluating the new ATP replacement regulations to determine if weaknesses in the regulations can be eliminated.
Closed - Implemented
USDA regulations issued February 15, 1989 include requirements that a state: (1) change its delivery system if FNS determines that program integrity would be improved; (2) account for all issuances through a reconciliation process; and (3) require that photo identification cards be issued to participants by food stamp offices in areas that serve 100,000 or more participants.

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