Agriculture and Food

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Open Recommendations

Food Program: DOD Should Formalize Its Process for Revising Food Ingredients and Better Track Dining Facility Use and Costs

GAO-22-103949
Mar 24, 2022
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11 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Defense Logistics Agency or other DOD entity, such as the forthcoming Defense Feeding and Nutrition Board, coordinates with key stakeholders within DOD and at other federal agencies as well as consults with industry as it develops DOD's formal process for revising food ingredients. (Recommendation 1)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should ensure the Defense Logistics Agency or other DOD entity, such as the forthcoming Defense Feeding and Nutrition Board, finalizes its formal process for revising food ingredients that includes estimated timeframes for steps in the process and identifies specific key stakeholders from other federal agencies and industry. (Recommendation 2)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of the Army should ensure that food program officials track the extent to which servicemembers with a meal entitlement use their entitlement. (Recommendation 3)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of the Navy should ensure that food program officials track the extent to which servicemembers with a meal entitlement use their entitlement. (Recommendation 4)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of the Navy, through the Commandant of the Marine Corps, should ensure that food program officials track the extent to which servicemembers with a meal entitlement use their entitlement. (Recommendation 5)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation.
Department of Defense The Secretary of the Army should establish a requirement for food program officials to conduct assessments of the effectiveness and efficiency of their installation-wide food programs, including satellite operations, in providing healthy meals to servicemembers with a meal entitlement. (Recommendation 6)
Open
DOD concurred with this recommendation.

USDA Market Facilitation Program: Oversight of Future Supplemental Assistance to Farmers Could Be Improved

GAO-22-104259
Feb 03, 2022
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4 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Farm Service Agency The Administrator of FSA should issue guidance directing the agency to design its data collection and analysis for future compliance reviews of supplemental assistance programs in a way that ensures reliable results by using sound statistical methodologies, defining objectives, identifying the information requirements to meet objectives, and processing data into quality information that achieves objectives. (Recommendation 1)
Open
In commenting on our draft report, FSA agreed with this recommendation. Specifically, FSA stated that for future programs, the agency "will use sound statistical methodologies, define objectives, and identify requirements/documentation to support those objectives with assistance from PAR [the FPAC Business Center's Performance Accountability and Risk division] to ensure sampling methods are consistent across programs." We will follow up with FSA regarding this recommendation and provide an update when we have additional information.
Farm Service Agency
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Administrator of FSA should issue guidance directing the agency to assess risk characteristics and take a more complete risk-based approach in selecting samples for future compliance reviews of supplemental assistance programs. This approach could include focusing on farming operations that received substantially large payments and new customers for which FSA does not have other information to corroborate eligibility for program participation. (Recommendation 2)
Open
In commenting on our draft report, FSA agreed with this recommendation. Specifically, FSA stated that the agency "will collaborate with supporting agency divisions to identify and assess risk characteristics that may include payment eligibility as well as program eligibility for a more complete risk-based approach in selecting samples." We will follow up with FSA regarding this recommendation and provide an update when we have additional information.
Farm Service Agency The Administrator of FSA should issue guidance directing the agency to document the rationale for the tolerance level (e.g., the allowable percentage difference between farming operations' actual production and their claimed production) used in future compliance reviews of supplemental assistance programs. (Recommendation 3)
Open
In commenting on our draft report, FSA agreed with this recommendation. Specifically, FSA stated that the agency "will utilize variances allowed in established programs for certified production and acreage-based benefit programs, as well as acceptable documentation to support certified ownership share of production for payment." We will follow up with FSA regarding this recommendation and provide an update when we have additional information.
Farm Service Agency The Administrator of FSA should issue guidance directing the agency to communicate the results of its future compliance reviews of supplemental assistance programs, including a summary of findings and the types of errors found, and identify corrective actions to be taken. (Recommendation 4)
Open
In commenting on our draft report, FSA agreed with this recommendation. Specifically, FSA stated that the agency "will continue to utilize national directives to report the results of compliance reviews, including reviews conducted by other divisions or audits conducted by other agencies or contractors, which will include a summary of the findings, the types of errors found, and the corrective actions to be taken." We will follow up with FSA regarding this recommendation and provide an update when we have additional information.

Imported Agriculture: Updated Planning and Communication Could Enhance Agency Coordination of Inspections

GAO-21-471
Jun 01, 2021
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3 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
United States Customs and Border Protection The Commissioner of CBP, in collaboration with the Director of APHIS, should report on the CBP-APHIS Joint Agency Task Force's progress in meeting its objectives for the 2014–2019 strategic plan, and develop periodic progress reports for future strategic plans. (Recommendation 1)
Open
In October 2021, CBP provided a progress report (including accomplishments) for the CBP-APHIS Joint Agency Task Force's 2014-2019 strategic plan. The 2022-2026 strategic plan, provided by APHIS in November 2021, includes a mention of performance measures. Specifically, the strategic plan notes that performance measures are used to monitor the progress of the goals and that APHIS and CBP will demonstrate program effectiveness in achieving the performance goals through the continued evaluation and improvement of performance measures. We consider this recommendation as partially implemented and will follow up with CBP and APHIS about a progress report for the 2022-2026 strategic plan.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service The Director of APHIS, in collaboration with the Commissioner of CBP, should report on the CBP-APHIS Joint Agency Task Force's progress in meeting its objectives for the 2014–2019 strategic plan, and develop periodic progress reports for future strategic plans. (Recommendation 2)
Open
In October 2021, CBP provided a progress report (including accomplishments) for the CBP-APHIS Joint Agency Task Force's 2014-2019 strategic plan. The 2022-2026 strategic plan, provided by APHIS in November 2021, includes a mention of performance measures. Specifically, the strategic plan notes that performance measures are used to monitor the progress of the goals and that APHIS and CBP will demonstrate program effectiveness in achieving the performance goals through the continued evaluation and improvement of performance measures. We consider this recommendation as partially implemented and will follow up with CBP and APHIS about progress reports for the 2022-2026 strategic plan.
United States Customs and Border Protection The Commissioner of CBP, with input from the Director of FWS, should review CBP's existing guidance on communication with FWS at U.S. ports of entry and update the guidance where necessary. (Recommendation 5)
Open
As of January 2022, CBP and FWS continue to collaborate to improve interagency communication concerning the discovery and/or interdiction of illegal wildlife and wildlife products at the U.S. ports of entry and intelligence sharing in support of wildlife investigations. In addition, according to CBP, the agencies are planning to develop a formal memorandum of understanding that will define each agency's roles and responsibilities concerning the internal flow of communication at U.S. ports of entry and external communications to the public. CBP plans to complete this memorandum of understanding by October 31, 2022.

Farm Programs: USDA Should Take Additional Steps to Ensure Compliance with Wetland Conservation Provisions

GAO-21-241
May 04, 2021
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3 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Natural Resources Conservation Service The Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service should update the template for appeal decision letters accompanying final wetland determinations to stipulate that the letters must include specific facts providing the basis for the determinations, as called for in the agency's appeals manual. (Recommendation 2)
Open
In comments on our draft report, the Natural Resources Conservation Service agreed with our recommendation about updating the template for appeal decision letters and said it would do so by the end of February 2022.
Natural Resources Conservation Service The Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service should clarify guidance on the annual compliance check (in its National Food Security Act Manual) to ensure that a risk-based approach is used in selecting a sample, which could include using crop acreage reports and other sources of information to identify anomalies associated with higher-risk tracts. (Recommendation 4)
Open
In comments on our draft report, the Natural Resources Conservation Service agreed with our recommendation and said it would work with the Farm Service Agency and the Risk Management Agency to develop an approach for sample selection by the end of February 2022.
Department of Agriculture The Secretary of Agriculture should ensure that the Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service instructs state and field offices to consistently report any potential violations they observe. (Recommendation 5)
Open
In commenting on our draft report, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agreed that policy clarification is needed and said the agency would develop policy that clearly identifies when NRCS will submit reports of potential violations.
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