Studies and Reports by GAO, OIG, and Other Oversight Agencies
This study identifies efforts that the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and State and local WIC agencies are taking to detect and prevent fraud and abuse in the WIC Program. GAO cited the nature and level of detected fraud and abuse in WIC and obtained estimates on the levels of undetected fraud and abuse. This study also identified barriers to the implementation of more effective prevention and detection strategies for WIC. FNS and the National WIC Association (NWA) have established a Program Integrity Workgroup to successfully address GAO's recommendations.
Date released: August 1999
This is the first GAO report in a series of reviews mandated by Congress as part of the reauthorization of the WIC Program. This report examined direct and indirect Nutrition Services and Administration (NSA) costs from fiscal year 1998. This study also includes participant expenses and participant ratios by local agency for 1998.
Date released: March 2000
This is the second GAO report in a series of reviews mandated by Congress as part of WIC's reauthorization. In this study, GAO reviews the types of services provided by local WIC agencies in four service areas. These four areas include: participant services, nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion/support, and administration. Direct and indirect expenditures associated with implementing and administering these specific services are studied as well as personnel time spent providing specific services in each of the service areas. GAO examined the approaches WIC agencies use to deliver nutrition services and administer the program.
Date released: September 2000
GAO's study focused on outcomes to measure WIC's performance in three WIC services: nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion and support, and health referral services. GAO used USDA's Strategic Plan to determine whether there was a correlation between the services WIC provides and specific outcome measures to monitor program performance. The study revealed that there are difficulties in identifying measures that would allow FNS to appropriately link services to outcomes since there may be many factors influencing outcomes.
Date released: February 2001
In this study, performance measures were reviewed in three program areas: nutrition education, breastfeeding promotion/support and health referral services. FNS stressed that many of the studies done on the WIC Program were not USDA funded or designed and were generally independent research initiatives. The Secretary of Agriculture approved FNS' Statement of Action to address GAO's recommendations.
Date released: March 2001
This study focuses on the major challenges facing the WIC Program in delivering nutrition services to participants. GAO outlined sixteen possible approaches WIC could use to address its six major challenges outlined in the report. In order to help the Congress and USDA identify strategies to address the program's challenges in recruiting and retaining a skilled staff assessing the effects of nutrition services, GAO recommended that FNS work with the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National WIC Association (NWA) to assess the staffing needs of State and local WIC agencies. GAO recommended that this assessment examine staffing patterns, vacancies, salaries, benefits, duties, turnover, and retention. GAO also recommended that FNS develop a strategic plan to evaluate the impact of specific WIC nutrition services. This plan should include information on the types of research that could be done to evaluate the impacts of specific nutrition services, as well as the data and the financial resources that would be needed to conduct such research.
Date released: December 2001
This study focuses on the effectiveness of nutrition education efforts in several USDA programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). GAO found that USDA programs incorporate the service delivery actions likely to contribute to successful nutrition education in different ways and to varying extents, but face similar challenges to fully incorporating the actions. They found that USDA’s nutrition education efforts did not fully incorporate the monitoring and evaluation actions that contribute to success and, as a result, little is known about what nutrition education is provided and whether the programs have met their nutrition education goals. GAO recommended that USDA identify ways to coordinate efforts and strengthen linkages among the nutrition education efforts, which may include program changes. GAO also recommended exploring options to collect reliable data on services delivered and recipients served, identifying and disseminatilng lessons learned, and developing a longer-term evaluation strategy.
Date released: April 2004
and the Retail Price of Infant Formula
WIC Program Data to Medicaid and Vital Records Data: Phase II Report, Data
Development Initiatives for Research on Food Assistance and Nutrition
Federal agencies that administer means-tested programs are responsible for both ensuring that people have appropriate access to assistance and ensuring the integrity of the programs they oversee. To balance these two priorities appropriately, it is important for agencies to have information on program integrity and program access. Knowing the proportion of the population that qualifies for these programs relative to the numbers who actually participate can help ensure that agencies can monitor and communicate key information on program access. To better understand participation in low-income programs, this report provides information on: (1) the proportion of those eligible who are participating in 12 selected low-income programs; (2) factors that influence participation in those programs; and (3) strategies used by federal, state, and local administrators to improve both access and integrity, and whether agencies monitor access by measuring participation rates. To better ensure that program administrators achieve program integrity goals, agencies have begun to develop measures to track and report on program integrity. Federal agencies have developed participation rate estimates for several low-income programs, but only four--CCDF, food stamps, WIC, and EITC--either currently collect and report information on the extent to which they are reaching their target populations or plan to do so. Such information can guide administrators in setting priorities and targeting scarce resources, even among programs that were not intended to serve everyone eligible for program benefits.
GAO issued the final report which describes efforts by five federal agencies—FEMA, DHS, ED, HHS, and USDA—to provide services to displaced hurricane victims living in FEMA trailers on group sites. Assistance provided by the D-SNAP, SNAP, NSLP, and WIC is described throughout the report. A link to the report is provided below. The report contains no recommendations.
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