Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What is this?

This request for a report to Congress (see page 15661) was apparently buried in the manager's amendment to the Senate Farm Bill.

Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to Congress a report that contains--

(1) a complete list of all Federal programs that seek to alleviate hunger or food insecurity or improve nutritional intake, including programs that support collaboration, coordination, research, or infrastructure related to these issues;

(2) for each program listed under paragraph (1)--

(A) the total amount of Federal funds used to carry out the program in the most recent fiscal year for which comparable data is available;

(B) a comparison of the amount described in subparagraph (A) with the amount used to carry out a similar program 10 and 20 years previously;

(C) to the maximum extent practicable, the amount of Federal funds used under the program to provide direct food aid to individuals (including the amount used for the costs of administering the program); and

(D) a review to determine whether the program has been independently reviewed for effectiveness with respect to achieving the goals of the program, including--

(i) the findings of the independent review; and

(ii) for the 10 highest-cost programs, a determination of whether the review was conducted in accordance with accepted research principles;

(3) for the 10- and 20-year periods before the date of enactment of this Act, and for the most recent year for which data is available, the estimated number of people in the United States who are hungry (or food insecure) or obese; and

(4) as of the date of submission of the report--

(A) the number of employees of the Department of Agriculture, including contractors and other individuals whose salary is paid in full or part by the Department; and

(B) the number of farmers and other agricultural producers in the United States that receive some form of assistance from the Department.

Congress can strengthen food assistance programs by calling for and funding high quality evaluation research with strong research designs, but simply asking for the results of independent reviews that one can easily verify have not been done would be a tactic for undermining the food assistance programs. What's the angle here?


foodperson said...

It would be very interesting to know where the amendment originated, which might suggest the angle. You don't suppose that if the number of Ag Dept employees exceeds the number of food-insecure people that they'll get rid of a few employees and spread their salaries among the hungry?

Anonymous said...

This amendment was introduced by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK). See pages S14210 and S14211 of the November 8, 2007, Congressional Record.