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As of January 31, 2023, there are 4840 open recommendations that still need to be addressed. 471 of these are priority recommendations, those that we believe warrant priority attention. Learn more about our priority designation on our Recommendations page.

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1 - 10 of 10 Recommendations, including 0 Priority Recommendations

COVID-19: Significant Improvements Are Needed for Overseeing Relief Funds and Leading Responses to Public Health Emergencies

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2 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Food and Nutrition Service The Secretary of Agriculture should ensure that the Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service (1) develops a comprehensive strategy for the agency's nutrition assistance programs to respond to emergencies that includes lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and a mechanism to periodically review and update the strategy, and (2) shares timely information with states and other stakeholders during development of the strategy to help inform their ongoing response to COVID-19. See the Nutrition Assistance enclosure. (Recommendation 3)
Open – Partially Addressed

FNS agreed with our recommendation and has begun taking steps to implement it. Specifically, the agency established a team comprised of staff from across FNS to focus on developing a comprehensive strategy for FNS's nutrition assistance programs to respond to emergencies. This strategy would formally document pre-existing and recently-available program flexibilities, and reflect COVID-19 lessons learned, according to FNS. The agency plans to compile and summarize lessons learned by September 2023, and plans to complete a comprehensive strategy, including a mechanism for periodic review and

Food and Nutrition Service The Secretary of Agriculture should ensure that the Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service further assists state and local agencies in their efforts to obtain reliable and comprehensive eligibility data for the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program in order to determine eligibility and benefits amounts accurately. See the Nutrition Assistance enclosure. (Recommendation 4)
Open – Partially Addressed

FNS agreed with our recommendation and has begun taking steps to implement it. FNS completed a series of listening sessions with state agencies in summer 2022 to learn more about the pain points in the benefit issuance process for the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program, what data were and were not available and why, and the ways FNS could assist with data reliability and the transfer of data across agencies within states. FNS plans to summarize the primary themes and concerns identified through the listening sessions and pursue solutions to address them. FNS expects to finalize a

Nutrition Assistance Programs: Agencies Could Do More to Help Address the Nutritional Needs of Older Adults

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Food and Nutrition Service The Administrator of FNS should take steps to improve its oversight of CACFP meals provided in adult day care centers. For example, FNS could amend its approach for determining federal onsite reviews of CACFP meal providers to more consistently include adult day care centers. (Recommendation 3)
Open

In November 2022, the Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) stated that the agency's CACFP management evaluation (ME) procedures were still not conducted as usual due to the continuation of nationwide waivers related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. In lieu of comprehensive MEs, FNS stated that the agency interviewed state agencies about their oversight and administration of child nutrition programs during FY 2021. In addition, the agency asked for feedback on oversight of CACFP meals at adult day care institutions and best practices around meeting the

School Meals Programs: USDA Has Reported Taking Some Steps to Reduce Improper Payments but Should Comprehensively Assess Fraud Risks

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Food and Nutrition Service The Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service should establish a process to plan and conduct regular fraud risk assessments for the school meals programs that align with the leading practices in the Fraud Risk Framework. (Recommendation 1)
Open – Partially Addressed

On March 29, 2022, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) issued a memo documenting its plan for establishing a process to conduct regular fraud risk assessment on its school meals program. This memo also acknowledges that FNS had completed its first School Meals Fraud Risk Assessment. FNS provided GAO with a copy of its finalized fraud risk assessment for the school meal programs. We reviewed this fraud risk assessment and determined that it did not align with three of the five leading practices in the Fraud Risk Framework for identifying and assessing risks to determine the program's fraud

Food Insecurity: Better Information Could Help Eligible College Students Access Federal Food Assistance Benefits

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Food and Nutrition Service The Administrator of FNS should coordinate with its regional offices to collect and review information about existing SNAP flexibilities and examples of approaches state SNAP agencies are taking to assist eligible college students to access SNAP benefits, and share such information with state SNAP agencies. (Recommendation 2)
Open – Partially Addressed

FNS partially concurred with this recommendation and, as of November 2022, FNS had completed several efforts to improve its information sharing with state SNAP agencies regarding student eligibility for SNAP. Specifically, FNS issued a SNAP outreach priorities memo for fiscal year 2022 and 2023 encouraging state SNAP agencies to include college students in their plans for targeted SNAP outreach. In addition, FNS has collaborated with state SNAP agencies and outreach partners to learn about their best practices for outreach and has developed two webinars to share this information with state

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Actions Needed to Better Measure and Address Retailer Trafficking

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3 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Food and Nutrition Service The Administrator of FNS should continue efforts to improve the agency's retailer trafficking estimates by evaluating (1) whether the factors used to identify stores for possible investigation could help address the bias in its sample, and (2) the accuracy of its assumption of the percentage of SNAP benefits that are trafficked by different types of stores. (Recommendation 2)
Open

FNS generally agreed with this recommendation. FNS stated that it will evaluate whether incorporating additional factors, such as the Watch List score used to identify stores for possible investigation, could improve its estimation methodology. FNS also stated that it will work with the USDA OIG to better understand the methodology the OIG uses to estimate the share of benefits that are trafficked by a retailer who is prosecuted for trafficking, and determine whether it is feasible to apply a similar methodology to the transaction data maintained by FNS in order to improve the accuracy of its

Food and Nutrition Service The Administrator of FNS should assess the benefits and costs of reauthorizing a sample of high-risk stores more frequently than other stores, use the assessment to determine the appropriate scope and time frames for reauthorizing high-risk stores moving forward, and document this decision in policy and on its website. (Recommendation 3)
Open

FNS generally agreed with this recommendation. In August 2020, FNS stated that it included a sample of 471 high-risk stores that had not yet reached their 5-year reauthorization cycle in its fiscal year 2020 reauthorization pool. FNS planned to analyze the outcomes of these reauthorizations to determine the benefits and costs of reauthorizing some high-risk stores more frequently and determine the appropriate scope and time frames for reauthorizing these stores moving forward. However, in September 2021, FNS reported that the analysis had been delayed due to other priorities during the

Food and Nutrition Service The Administrator of FNS should move forward with plans to increase penalties for retailer trafficking. (Recommendation 4)
Open

FNS generally agreed with this recommendation. In August 2020, FNS reported that it had developed a proposed rule to accomplish this change. However, in September 2021, the agency reported that the time frame for proposing the rule had been delayed due to other priorities during the pandemic. The agency expects the proposed rule to be published by December 2022.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Disseminating Information on Successful Use of Data Analytics Could Help States Manage Fraud Risks

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Food and Nutrition Service Building on ongoing efforts, the Administrator of FNS should develop and implement additional methods to widely distribute information to state agencies on an ongoing basis about successful efforts to adopt data analytics and strategies to leverage existing data, technology, and staff resources to enhance data analytics. (Recommendation 1)
Open

FNS agreed with this recommendation. The agency noted that it would build on current efforts to address it but state readiness and technical capabilities are limiting factors in the adoption of data analytics. In September 2021, FNS reported that it continues to distribute information about successful implementation of data analytics and strategies to leverage existing resources by promoting its Fraud Framework and by providing technical assistance through grants and contracted support. For example, in 2019, the agency engaged three states through a Data Analytics Readiness Assessment contract

Summer Meals: Actions Needed to Improve Participation Estimates and Address Program Challenges

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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Recommendation Status
Food and Nutrition Service The Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) should improve its estimate of children's participation in the SFSP by focusing on addressing, at a minimum, data reliability issues caused by variations in the number of operating days of meal sites and in the months in which states see the greatest number of meals served. (Recommendation 1)
Open

In May 2022, the Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) stated that it uses data and information from three main sources to assess participation in the SFSP and site operations. First, FNS indicated that it uses the SFSP meal claiming form FNS-418 to collect data on the total number of meals for the entire SFSP as well as the number of sites, sponsors and average daily attendance for the month of July. FNS stated that it also uses data collected through the form to calculate state-level coverage rates for SFSP by dividing the total number of SFSP lunches in each state

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For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation. For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.