Food and Nutrition Service



USDA OIG: Detecting Potential SNAP Trafficking Using Data Analysis

January 2017

The Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) issues around $70 billion in benefits annually. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) reviewed approximately 1.56 billion SNAP transactions representing approximately $23 billion to identify potential fraud.

We found that 3,394 authorized SNAP retailers (retailers) used Social Security Numbers (SSN) that matched SSNs of deceased people. Additionally, 193 retailers listed owners who were not at least 18 years of age. While FNS did have some controls to edit or verify SNAP retail owner information, these controls were
not adequate to ensure owner information accuracy.

During the 21 month period, OIG reviewed 3,394 retailers who reported SSNs of at least one deceased person. These 3,394 retailers redeemed about $2.6 billion in SNAP benefits. In addition, 193 retailers had at least one owner who reported a birthdate that indicated they were younger than. These 193 retailers redeemed $41 million during the period under review. Report




USDA OIG: SNAP Administrative Costs 

September 2016

In FY 2014, the Federal share of SNAP administrative costs nationwide totaled over $3.6 billion. Half of these costs ($1.8 billion) were incurred by States that are administered at the county level. Out of the 53 States and territories that participate in SNAP, 10 are administered at the county level.4 The FY 2014 average administrative cost per SNAP case (i.e., per household) per month for these 10 county-administered States is over $21, as opposed to under $10 per case for the State-administered States. The cost-per-case varied significantly among the 10 county- administered States in FY 2014, with costs ranging as high as $34 (California) and as low as $10 (Ohio) per case. Report



USDA OIG: FNS Controls Over SNAP Benefits For Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents 

September 2016

OIG found that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) provisions regarding able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWD) are difficult for States to implement. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) can approve States to temporarily waive the time limit in areas with high unemployment or insufficient jobs, but some States are requesting and receiving time limit waivers to reduce the burden of tracking ABAWD time limits.

Therefore, in some States an ABAWD may not be subject to the work requirements based on those States’ decisions to avoid the burden of tracking the ABAWD time limits since the related authorizing statutes and implementing regulations provide the States with the latitude to adapt their program to meet their needs. Yet, even with this flexibility, the States have difficulties implementing provisions because the ABAWD requirements are very complex. Report




USDA OIG: Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010—Controls Over Food Service Account Revenue 

September 2015

The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) cannot ensure that School Food Authorities (SFA) are in compliance with the paid lunch equity and nonprogram foods revenue requirements of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). 

This occurred because FNS does not have sufficient controls in its Administrative Review Manual to detect SFA noncompliance with those sections. As such, FNS cannot provide assurance that SFA revenues are sufficient to ensure that children with free and reduced price meals receive the full value of Federal funds for healthy nutritious meals. Report


USDA OIG: National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs Audit

April 2015

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) audited the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to evaluate how the agency has attempted to lower the error rates for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs.

The audit found that USDA paid over $12 million for free or reduced school breakfast/lunches to children who were ineligible for the program. Report

Media Coverage 

Free Beacon: Audit: USDA Spent $12.5 Million on Free Lunches For Ineligible Households

WSJ: Republican Lawmakers Vow Changes to School-Lunch Program




USDA OIG: Lessons Learned from the Recovery Act: An OIG Perspective 

August 2014

The Recovery Act provided the Department of Agriculture (USDA) over $28 billion in additional funding in a number of areas, including farm loans, watershed programs, supplemental nutrition assistance, wildland fire management, and several rural development programs, such as rural housing, rural business, water and waste disposal, and broadband.

This report gives a summary of the funds authorized and appropriated to the USDA as well as recommendations. Report.  


GAO: School Meal Programs: Implications of Adjusting Income Eligibility Thresholds and Reimbursement Rates by Geographic Differences 

July 2014

In fiscal year 2013, 30.7 million children participated in the National School Lunch Program and 13.2 million children participated in the School Breakfast Program, partly funded by $14.6 billion from the USDA. The majority of these children came from low-income families and received school meals free or at a reduced- price. Income eligibility and school reimbursement rates for school meals are federally set and do not consider geographic differences in the cost of living (except for Alaska and Hawaii). 

There are a number of measures by which income thresholds for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) school meal programs could be adjusted to account for geographic differences in the cost of living; doing so would likely lead to shifts in eligibility and program costs. Report




USDA OIG: National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs Audit

July 2013

In fiscal year 2012, FNS distributed over $75 billion in SNAP benefits to low-income households and approved 246,565 retailer locations to participate in SNAP. FNS has seen a 41 percent increase in retail authorization over the last 5 fiscal years. 

The integrity of SNAP is at risk because FNS does not consistently provide deterrents for trafficking. From a sample of 316 locations, OIG found that FNS did not properly determine potentially $6.7 million in penalties, and authorized 51 ineligible store owners, who redeemed over $5.3 million in benefits since 2006. Report


USDA OIG: Recovery Act Impacts on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Phase II 

June 2013

OIG reviewed FNS’ internal controls for the Recovery Act’s SNAP administrative funding to ensure that funds were spent for allowable costs in accordance with applicable requirements. 

OIG randomly selected the following States for review: California, Colorado, Nevada, New York, South Dakota, and Utah. These States received $52.2 million of the $290.5 million in Recovery Act administrative funds for SNAP. 

OIG found unallowable expenditures totaling $470,272 from three State agencies and one county. Report.


USDA OIG: Overlap and Duplication in Food and Nutrition Service’s Nutrition Programs 

June 2013

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) identified that the potential for overlap and duplication exists among the Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) 15 nutrition programs, and determined that FNS may be duplicating its efforts by providing participants total benefits in excess of 100 percent of daily nutritional needs when households and/or individuals participate in more than one FNS program simultaneously. Report

Media Coverage 

CSN News: 101M Get Food Aid from Federal Gov’t; Outnumber Full-Time Private Sector Workers


GAO: WIC Program: Improved Oversight of Income Eligibility Determination Needed 

February 2013

The discretion granted by federal law, regulations, and guidance in certain areas of income eligibility determination for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has resulted in policy variation across states and localities. For example, while national survey data show that many states use an applicant’s current income to determine income eligibility, GAO’s review of 10 state policy manuals found that states differ in how they define the time period covered by current income, with some looking at income from the most recent 30 days and others using longer time periods. Report




USDA OIG: Analysis of FNS’ Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Fraud Prevention and Detection Efforts 

September 2012

For this audit, OIG began analyzing SNAP- related databases at Federal and State levels to identify anomalies that may result in ineligible individuals receiving SNAP benefits. 

OIG found that of the more than 13.9 million average monthly recipients in the 10 States we reviewed, there were 27,044 recipients (.20 percent) who were potentially deceased, using a deceased individual’s Social Security Number (SSN), had erroneous SSNs, were receiving duplicate benefits in the same State, were receiving benefits simultaneously from at least one other State, or were listed as being disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits.These potentially ineligible recipients cause us to question approximately $3.7 million for each month they received benefits. Report


USDA OIG: Review of the Food and Nutrition Service’s Controls Over the Emergency Food Assistance Program – Phase II 

June 2012

In Phase II, OIG examined FNS State level oversight of program delivery and internal controls, covering both regular program administration and compliance with Recovery Act provisions. 

Eight of nine States did not adequately monitor approximately $9.2 million of Recovery Act administrative payments made to TEFAP recipient agencies, such as food banks. This occurred because States lacked effective controls to ensure that administrative funds were spent properly. Report


USDA OIG: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 National School Lunch Program Equipment Assistance Grants 

February 2012

The FNS regional offices (RO) did not review the grant award processes created by State Agencies (SA) before the Recovery Act funds were awarded. The national office stated it did not require ROs to perform a pre-award review because they wanted to comply with the Recovery Act’s goal of swiftly allocating funds. As a result, three of the five States in our review awarded over $5 million in grants, utilizing processes that did not fully meet the Recovery Act’s criteria. Report

Media Coverage 


USDA OIG: Identifying Areas of Risk in the Child and Adult Care Food Program 

January 2012

The Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provides nutritious meals and snacks to participants in daycare institutions, such as child care centers, daycare homes, and adult daycare centers. 

OIG visited 56 high risk sites in two States to determine if daycare providers were claiming more meals than the actual number of meals they served. OIG found that one third of the sites visited were historically claiming more meals than we observed during our visits. Report


GAO: SNAP: Improved Oversight of State Eligibility Expansions Needed 

July 2012

In fiscal year 2010, GAO estimates that 2.6 percent (473,000) of households that received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would not have been eligible for the program without broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE) because their incomes were over the federal SNAP eligibility limits. 

GAO estimates that BBCE increased SNAP benefit costs, which are borne by the federal government, by less than 1 percent in fiscal year 2010. In that year, total SNAP benefits provided to households that, without BBCE, would not have been eligible for the program because their incomes were over the federal SNAP eligibility limits were an estimated $38 million monthly or about $460 million for the year. Report

Media Coverage 

Daily Caller: GAO: $460 million food stamp benefits went to households ineligible under federal limits




USDA OIG: Review of Management Controls for the Child and Adult Care Food Program 

November 2011

In 1999, OIG audited the Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which provides funding to help ensure that children and adults in day care receive nutritious meals. 

In this follow-up audit, nothing came to OIGs attention to indicate that, except in two cases, the controls implemented by FNS in response to OIGs prior recommendations were not operating as prescribed. 

During OIG's audit, potential program abuse by two sponsors came to our attention, OIG examined how they were using their CACFP funds. In total, OIG determined that they had spent nearly $2.5 million contrary to program rules. The sponsors’ misuse of CACFP funds varied from spending over $10,000 to put on a car show to cashing a $110,000 check which the director claimed she used to pay personal taxes. Report


USDA OIG: Controls over Outsourcing of Food and Nutrition Service’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefits Transfer Call Centers 

June 2011

The Recovery Act increased the amount of SNAP benefits by 13.6 percent and provided $290.5 million in funding for SAEs to handle the anticipated increase in SNAP caseloads for fiscal years (FY) 2009 and 2010. 

OIG initiated this audit in response to public concerns that several States with high unemployment were outsourcing SNAP administrative services to foreign call centers and that funds provided by the Recovery Act were potentially being used to operate foreign EBT call centers. 

OIG found that the Recovery Act did not require, nor did FNS establish, controls to ensure that States using foreign call centers did not pay for such operations with Recovery Act funding. There were only five States that both used foreign call centers and received Recovery Act funds for EBT Issuance Costs. Recovery Act funding for EBT Issuance Costs for these five States is relatively small (about $5.8 million, or 2 percent, of the $290.5 million SAE funding provided by the Recovery Act). Report