Skip to Highlights
Highlights

The Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provided about $3 billion to state agencies in fiscal year 2001 for food assistance, including infant formula, through its Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Most infants receiving formula are given a milk- or soy-based standard formula. To stretch program dollars, each state WIC agency contracts with a single company for purchases of that company's standard formula for which they receive rebates. These rebates totaled $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2001. Rebates do not apply to other companies' brands of standard formula (noncontract standard formula) or to nonstandard formulas designed to meet special medical or dietary conditions. GAO was directed to examine the extent that WIC agencies have restricted the use of noncontract standard formula to lower cost of the WIC program.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Agriculture To effectively monitor the economical purchase of infant formula, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service to require that WIC agencies develop and regularly submit data on their use of noncontract standard infant formula.
Closed - Implemented
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) now collects WIC state agency data on the amounts and types of all infant formula provided, including data on each agency's use of noncontract standard infant formula. This information is collected in state agency management information systems and reported to FNS biennially.
Department of Agriculture Additionally, the Administrator should require that WIC agencies develop and regularly submit data on their use of nonstandard formula.
Closed - Implemented
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) now collects WIC state agency data on the amounts and types of all infant formula provided, including data on each agency's use of nonstandard infant formula. This information is collected in state agency management information systems and reported to FNS biennially.
Department of Agriculture To effectively monitor the economical purchase of infant formula, the Secretary of Agriculture should direct the Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service to work with WIC agencies with above-average usage rates of noncontract standard formula to implement the best policies and practices for reducing the level of use.
Closed - Implemented
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) now collects WIC state agency data on the amounts and types of all infant formula provided, including data on each agency's use of nonstandard and noncontract standard infant formula. This information is collected in state agency management information systems and reported to FNS biennially. FNS found 3 agencies had above-average use on noncontract standard formula. FNS is working with these WIC state agencies to develop policies and practices to reduce their use of noncontract standard formula and to provide training to local agencies on the issuance of this formula.
Department of Agriculture Additionally, the Administrator should work with WIC agencies with above-average use of nonstandard formula to implement the best policies and practices for reducing nonstandard formula use.
Closed - Implemented
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) now collects WIC state agency data on the amounts and types of all infant formula provided, including data on each agency's use of nonstandard and noncontract standard infant formula. This information is collected in state agency management information systems and reported to FNS biennially. FNS found 3 agencies had above-average use on nonstandard formula. FNS is working with these WIC state agencies to develop policies and practices to reduce their use of nonstandard formula and to provide training to local agencies on the issuance of this formula.

Full Report