Sneak Preview: FNS Urged To Improve Monitoring Documentation

April 20, 2018 | By Jerry Ashworth | Post a Comment

xsass_bookshot(The following was excerpted from a recent article in the Single Audit Information Service.) The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) plans by March 2019 to fully update its Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) guidance to ensure that agency reviewers conducting a management evaluation (ME) of program recipients fully document findings in their reviews, in response to recommendations in a recent USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit.

Although state nutrition agencies are responsible for administering SFSP programs, FNS is responsible for implementing internal controls to ensure that states use SFSP funds as intended in federal program regulations. OIG evaluated FNS’ internal controls over the program from October 2016 to June 2017, reviewing FNS monitoring policies and procedures in five states.

FNS’ primary monitoring tool to ensure SFSP integrity is ME reviews, in which FNS regional offices review state SFSP administration compliance at least once every three years. The ME review is guided by a comprehensive questionnaire, the SFSP ME guide, which contains 163 questions covering the program’s functional areas. Reviewers also interview state agencies about their administrative processes, review documentation, and verify the correctness and compliance of the state’s processes.

OIG found that FNS’ procedures for monitoring SFSP recipients do not sufficiently ensure that states properly administer their programs and comply with program requirements. MEs “lacked the documentation needed to confirm reviewer conclusions were valid,” the OIG concluded, explaining that the ME review guide did not require FNS reviewers to sufficiently document their reviews. “As a result, FNS managers did not have the information needed to evaluate the program’s effectiveness, [and] were unable to confirm how reviewers tested and verified the adequacy of state processes, or the basis for the reviewer’s conclusions that state procedures were compliant with SFSP requirements.”

Specifically, OIG found that ME reviewers documented their work when they identified state noncompliance with one of the 163 requirements, but they failed to adequately document that work was sufficient for other processes. For example, if an ME reviewer identified five instances of noncompliance, the reviewer only documented those five instances, yet provided little, if any, documentation supporting an affirmative conclusion for the other 158 processes. In addition, ME reviewers did not document how they tested and verified the adequacy of state processes, or the basis for the reviewers’ conclusions that state procedures were compliant with SFSP requirements, OIG noted.

(The full version of this story has now been made available to all for a limited time on Thompson’s Grants Compliance Expert site.)

As a reminder, we have all of our Federal Funding Training Forums scheduled for 2018. Please let me know if you have questions or can make any of these. We hope to see you there!

  • Wednesday May 1 – Friday May 4 in ST LOUIS

http://www.federalgrantsforum.com/stlouis/index.html?src=AT

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