Progress in Reducing Improper Payments and Proposed Administrative Review Rule

2015-05-05

On May 4, 2015, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Undersecretary Kevin Concannon announced the results of a nationwide assessment of improper payments in school meals programs, as well as several steps to sustain progress by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in reducing errors and improving school meal program integrity. $8.5 million in grants is now available to improve schools’ operational and oversight efforts in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. In addition, a new rule is being proposed to help states better target resources to districts at highest risk of improper payments.

In order to ensure proper stewardship of these vital programs, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service developed a study series titled, Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification (APEC), to collect nationally representative data from schools and school food authorities every five years. This study estimates improper payment rates and amounts in three key areas: aggregation, certification, and meal claiming errors. The most recent results show that while overall level of program error remains unacceptably high, there have been notable areas of improvement. The overall error rate has been reduced, with significant declines in the frequency of aggregation errors – from 3.8 percent to 0.8 percent in the National School Lunch Program and from 6.0 percent to 1.2 percent in the School Breakfast Program. Read the USDA Press Release announcing the findings.

All state agencies interested in applying for the announced grants can visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/grants.

The new Administrative Review proposed rule would revise the state agency’s administrative review process to establish a unified accountability system designed to ensure that participation school food authorities comply with the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program requirements. In addition to the new administrative review process, this rule proposes to require state agencies to report and publicly post school food authorities’ administrative review results. Read the USDA Federal Register notice of the proposed rule. Comments on the proposed rule can be made at www.regulations.gov.

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