Inspectors find millions in improper payments made by the Farm Service Agency

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Flooded Walnut River in Winfield, KS

Andrea Schneider, Winfield, KS/United States Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency

This photo of the flooded Walnut River in Winfield, (Cowley County)Kansas was taken on April 28, 2009, when the river level was at its highest.

A recent audit completed by inspector generals with the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that roughly $17 million in improper payments were issued on behalf of a program created to assist food producers with disaster relief.

Inspectors were reviewing payments made by the Farm Service Agency, which is responsible for administering programs to food producers on behalf of the U.S.D.A.

Inspectors found most errors with the Supplemental Review Assistance Payments (SURE) program. The inspector’s findings focus on mistakes by employees using workbooks to calculate costs, in addition to reviewers responsible for catching those mistakes.

Astonishingly, inspectors note that the problems have worsened since the last audit conducted in 2011.

Of interest to reporters may be a closer look at an entangled system used for calculating and distributing payments, which partially consists of:

  • A 1,018-page handbook for state and county employees
  • A workbook for finding costs requiring manual calculations
  • The optional use of an assortment of online tools
  • And constantly changing reference tables listing current prices and yields

A search on the Farm Service Agency website lists numerous amendments revealing mistakes and updated bureaucratic policies, dating from the establishment of the program.

Additional Resources: 

Title Fiscal Year 2012 Farm Service Agency Farm Assistance Program Payments
Description The audit looks at the accounting practices and reviews when food producers apply for disaster assistance to the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), overseen by the Farm Service Agency.
Date 2013-07
Creator United States Department of Agriculture
Contributor Office of Inspector General
Identifier http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/03401-0002-11.pdf
Subject Audit, Accounting, FSA, SURE, USDA, OIG
Coverage Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program administered by the Farm Service Agency for food producers
Publisher United States Department of Agriculture
Relation http://usda.gov/oig
Source Audit Number 03401-0002-11
Type Text
Format PDF
Language English
Rights Publicly available information

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