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e-CFR data is current as of March 4, 2021

Title 7Subtitle BChapter IISubchapter APart 249 → Subpart F

Title 7: Agriculture

Subpart F—Monitoring and Review of State Agencies

§249.17   Management evaluations and reviews.
§249.18   Audits.
§249.19   Investigations.

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§249.17   Management evaluations and reviews.

(a) General. FNS and each State agency shall establish a management evaluation system in order to assess the accomplishment of SFMNP objectives as provided under these regulations, the State Plan, and the written agreement with FNS. FNS will:

(1) Provide assistance to State agencies in discharging this responsibility;

(2) Establish standards and procedures to determine how well the objectives of this part are being accomplished; and

(3) Implement sanction procedures as warranted by State SFMNP performance.

(b) Responsibilities of FNS. FNS will establish evaluation procedures to determine whether State agencies carry out the purposes and provisions of this part, the State Plan, and the written agreement with FNS. As a part of the evaluation procedure, FNS will review audits to ensure that the SFMNP has been included in audit examinations at a reasonable frequency. These evaluations shall also include reviews of selected local agencies, and on-site reviews of selected farmers, farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs. These evaluations will measure the State agency's progress toward meeting the objectives outlined in its State Plan and the State agency's compliance with these regulations.

(1) FNS may withhold up to 10 percent of the State agency's total SFMNP grant if FNS determines that the State agency has:

(i) Failed, without good cause, to demonstrate efficient and effective administration of its SFMNP; or

(ii) Failed to comply with the requirements contained in this section or the State Plan.

(2) Sanctions imposed upon a State agency by FNS in accordance with this section (but not claims for repayment assessed against a State agency) may be appealed in accordance with the procedures established in §249.20(a). Before carrying out any sanction against a State agency, the following procedures will be followed:

(i) FNS will notify the chief departmental officer of the administering agency in writing of the deficiencies found and of FNS' intention to withhold administrative funds unless an acceptable corrective action plan is submitted by the State agency to FNS within 45 days after mailing of notification.

(ii) The State agency shall develop a corrective action plan, including timeframes for implementation to address the deficiencies and prevent their future recurrence.

(iii) If the corrective action plan is acceptable, FNS will notify the chief departmental officer of the administering agency in writing within 30 days of receipt of the plan. The letter will advise the State agency of the sanctions to be imposed if the corrective action plan is not implemented according to the schedule set forth in the approved plan.

(iv) Upon notification from the State agency that corrective action has been taken, FNS will assess such action and, if necessary, perform a follow-up review to determine if the noted deficiencies have been corrected. FNS will then advise the State agency of whether the actions taken are in compliance with the corrective action plan, and whether the deficiency is resolved or further corrective action is needed. Compliance buys can be required if, during FNS management evaluations by regional offices, a State agency is found to be out of compliance with its responsibility to monitor and review farmers, farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs.

(v) If an acceptable corrective action plan is not submitted within 45 days, or if corrective action is not completed according to the schedule established in the corrective action plan, FNS may withhold the award of SFMNP administrative funds. If the 45-day warning period ends in the fourth quarter of a fiscal year, FNS may elect not to withhold funds until the next fiscal year. In such an event, FNS will notify the chief departmental officer of the administering State agency.

(vi) If compliance is achieved before the end of the fiscal year in which the SFMNP administrative funds are withheld, the funds withheld may be restored to the State agency. FNS is not required to restore funds withheld beyond the end of the fiscal year for which the funds were initially awarded.

(c) Responsibilities of State agencies. The State agency is responsible for meeting the following requirements:

(1) The State agency must establish evaluation and review procedures and document the results of such procedures. The procedures must include, but are not limited to:

(i) Conducting annual monitoring reviews of participating farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs. This includes on-site reviews of a minimum of 10 percent of farmers and 10 percent of each type of authorized outlet (farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs), and includes those farmers and authorized outlets identified as being at the highest risk. The first year of operation in the SFMNP shall be considered a high-risk indicator. More frequent reviews may be performed, as the State agency deems necessary. In States where both the SFMNP and the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program are in operation, these reviews may be coordinated to avoid duplication. A review by one program may be counted by the other program toward the monitoring requirement, provided that appropriate sanction action is taken for all violations found.

(ii) Conducting monitoring reviews of all local agencies within the State agency's jurisdiction at least once every 2 years. Monitoring of local agencies shall encompass, but not be limited to, evaluation of management, accountability, certification, nutrition education, financial management systems, and coupon and/or CSA program management systems. When the State agency conducts a local agency review outside of the SFMNP season, a review of documents and procedural plans of the SFMNP, rather than actual SFMNP activities, is acceptable.

(iii) Instituting the necessary follow-up procedures to correct identified problem areas.

(2) On its own initiative or when required by FNS, the State agency must provide special reports on SFMNP activities, and take positive action to correct deficiencies in SFMNP operations.

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§249.18   Audits.

(a) Federal access to information. The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Comptroller General of the United States, or any of their duly authorized representatives, or duly authorized State auditors shall have access to any books, documents, papers, and records of the State agency and their contractors, for the purpose of making surveys, audits, examinations, excerpts, and transcripts.

(b) State agency response. The State agency may take exception to particular audit findings and recommendations. The State agency shall submit a response or statement to FNS as to the action taken or planned regarding the findings. A proposed corrective action plan developed and submitted by the State agency must include specific time frames for its implementation and for completion of the correction of deficiencies and problems leading to the deficiencies.

(c) Corrective action. FNS will determine whether SFMNP deficiencies identified in an audit have been adequately corrected. If additional corrective action is necessary, FNS shall schedule a follow-up review, allowing a reasonable time for such corrective action to be taken.

(d) State sponsored audits. State and local agencies must conduct independent audits in accordance with 2 CFR part 200, subpart F, Audit Requirements and USDA implementing regulations 2 CFR part 400 and part 415, as applicable. A State or local agency may elect to obtain either an organization-wide audit or an audit of the Program if it qualifies to make such an election under applicable regulations.

[71 FR 74630, Dec. 12, 2006, as amended at 81 FR 66497, Sept. 28, 2016]

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§249.19   Investigations.

(a) Authority. FNS may make an investigation of any allegation of noncompliance with this part and FNS guidelines and instructions. The investigation may include, where appropriate, a review of pertinent practices and policies of any State and local agency, the circumstances under which the possible noncompliance with this part occurred, and other factors relevant to a determination as to whether the State and local agency has failed to comply with the requirements of this Part.

(b) Confidentiality. No State or local agency, participant, or other person shall intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege under this Part because that person has made a complaint or formal allegation, or has testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this Part. The identity of every complainant shall be kept confidential except to the extent necessary to carry out the purposes of this Part, including the conducting of any investigation, hearing, or judicial proceeding.

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