WASHINGTON, April 17, 2013-Performance measures used by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) were not designed to effectively evaluate the effects of the 2009 stimulus package on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), according to a report released Tuesday by USDA’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
The report said the measures did not effectively evaluate how additional stimulus funding achieved the goals of assisting those most impacted by the recession, stabilizing state government nutrition program budgets for essential services, and stimulating the economy.
FNS said it believed the stimulus goals naturally aligned with its pre-existing program goals for SNAP. However, according to OMB, it is ultimately FNS’ responsibility to develop and report on performance measures that provide transparency to enable the public to see the results of the approximate $45.5 billion in additional SNAP funds from the stimulus.
“We recommended that FNS establish outcome-based performance measures for SNAP in the USDA strategic plan,” the report said. “FNS cannot define outcome measures specific to SNAP, because of the complexity of measuring program impacts on participants. We accept management decision.”
Separately, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday the number of people receiving SNAP benefits has risen sharply in recent years ‑ from about 26 million in 2007 to nearly 47 million in 2012.
CBO said total spending on SNAP also has grown significantly ‑ from $35 billion in 2007 to $80 billion in 2012.
“Those increases are largely related to the severe recession and slow recovery: SNAP participation and spending automatically rise during periods of economic weakness because people’s incomes are lower,” CBO said. The watchdog agency said SNAP participation is likely to follow the same trend in the coming years.
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