(a) General provisions.
(1) FNS shall make determinations of the efficiency and effectiveness of State agencies' administration of SNAP in accordance with the provisions of § 275.25. When making such determinations, FNS shall use all information that is available relating to State agencies' administration of the Program. This information includes, but is not limited to, information received from Performance Reporting System reviews, Federal reviews, audits, investigations, corrective action plans, financial management reviews, and the public.
(2) FNS may determine a State agency's administration of the Program to be inefficient or ineffective if the State agency fails to comply with the SNAP requirements established by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, the regulations issued pursuant to the Act, or the FNS-approved State Plan of Operation.
(3) If FNS determines that a State agency's administration of the Program is inefficient or ineffective, FNS may warn the State agency that a suspension and/or disallowance of administrative funds is being considered. After a State agency receives a warning, FNS may either suspend or disallow administrative funds or take both actions in sequence, depending on the statement in the warning.
(b) Suspension. A suspension of funds is an action by FNS to temporarily withhold all or a portion of the Federal share of one or more of the cost categories of a State agency's budget for administration of SNAP. Suspensions of funds shall remain in effect until FNS determines that a State agency has taken adequate corrective action to correct the problem causing the suspension, in which event the suspension will be rescinded, or until FNS decides to disallow the suspended funds. FNS shall suspend funds in accordance with § 277.16.
(1) A disallowance of funds is an action by FNS in which reimbursement is denied for otherwise reimbursable administrative costs claimed by a State agency in one or more of the cost categories of a State agency's budget for Program administration.
(2) In accordance with § 277.16, FNS has the option of disallowing funds in another cost category, or all or a portion of the entire Letter of Credit if the disallowance is based on a finding that the State agency failed to take a required action. FNS may disallow funds after previously suspending such funds or may disallow funds immediately following the expiration of the formal warning under the conditions specified in paragraph (e) of this section.
(d) Warning process. Prior to taking action to suspend or disallow Federal funds, except those funds which are disallowed when a State agency fails to adhere to the cost principles of part 277 and 2 CFR part 200, subparts D and E and USDA implementing regulations 2 CFR part 400 and part 415, FNS shall provide State agencies with written advance notification that such action is being considered. If a State agency does not respond to such an advance notification to the satisfaction of FNS, FNS shall provide the State agency with a formal warning of the possibility of suspension or disallowance action. However, when a State agency fails to meet the objectives in a corrective action plan, FNS may omit the advance notification and immediately issue a formal warning.
(1) Advance notification. Immediately upon becoming aware that a deficiency or deficiencies in a State agency's administration of the Program may warrant the suspension and/or disallowance of Federal funds, FNS shall advise the State agency in writing of the deficiency and shall provide a specific period of time for correction of such deficiency or deficiencies. The time period allowed the State agency for corrective action will vary according to the nature of the deficiency.
(2) Formal warning. FNS shall issue a formal warning to a State agency if the State fails to correct to the satisfaction of FNS the deficiencies noted in an advance notification within the time specified in the advance notification. FNS may also issue a formal warning to a State agency without first issuing an advance notification if a State agency fails to comply with a corrective action plan.
(i) Formal warnings shall include the following information:
(A) Specific descriptions of the deficiencies, explaining how the State agency is out of compliance with Program requirements;
(B) A Statement as to whether Federal funds will be suspended, disallowed or both, if appropriate;
(C) The amount of Federal funds that will be suspended and/or disallowed or an estimate of the amount if actual cost are unavailable; and
(D) A statement of FNS' willingness to assist State agencies is resolving the deficiencies.
(ii) A State agency shall have 30 days from receipt of a formal warning to submit evidence that it is in compliance or to submit a corrective action proposal, including the date the State agency will be in compliance.
(iii) When the deficiency cannot be corrected within 30 days of receipt of a formal warning but the State agency submits an acceptable plan for correcting the deficiency, FNS shall hold the formal warning in abeyance pending completion of the actions contained in the plan within the time specified in the plan.
(iv) FNS shall cancel a formal warning when the State agency submits evidence that shows, to the satisfaction of FNS, that the deficiency has been eliminated.
(e) Suspension/disallowance of funds. The Administrator of FNS shall notify State agencies in writing by certified mail or through personal service that administrative funds are being suspended or disallowed. Such action may occur when any of the following situations arise:
(1) A State agency fails to respond to the deficiencies cited in a formal warning within 30 days of receiving the warning;
(2) The response by a State agency to the deficiencies cited in a formal warning is unsatisfactory to FNS; or
(3) A State agency fails to meet the commitments it made in its corrective action proposal and a formal warning had been held in abeyance pending completion of that corrective action.
(f) Appeals. After FNS has taken action to disallow Federal funds the State agency may request an appeal in accordance with the procedures specified in § 276.7.