Statement from Senator Jim Tracy regarding the Comptroller Investigative Report on Child Feeding Programs

NASHVILLE — State Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville), sponsor of legislation (Senate Bill 1472) aiming to reduce fraud and abuse in feeding programs administered by the Department of Human Services, made the following statement regarding the reports released by Tennessee Comptrollers Justin Wilson today about misuse by two operators in the program.

“The Department of Human Services provides services to some of the most vulnerable citizens of our state,” said Senator Tracy. “The Comptroller audits and investigations, which continue to uncover more financial mismanagement and fraud within some of the federal food programs managed by DHS, are both troubling and unacceptable. That is why the Senate has passed legislation to more effectively monitor third-party agencies and weed out bad actors who fraudulently use taxpayer money meant to feed hungry children for their own personal gain. This legislation should make a huge difference in the way these programs are administered and monitored.”

BILL SUMMARY: Senate Bill 1472 makes substantial changes to the way the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) contracts and monitors third-party agencies that receive taxpayer money to feed children and adults. It directs DHS to conduct background checks on each applicant of the subrecipient or sponsoring organization. It also requires sponsoring organizations applying to participate in any food program administered through the department to obtain and maintain a performance bond. If the contract is awarded, the department must perform both unannounced and announced physical site visits during the subrecipient monitoring process and report their findings.

Similarly, DHS must develop sub-recipient monitoring plans, under the bill, utilizing analytical procedures that must be submitted to certain legislative leaders and the state comptroller on an annual basis. In addition, the bill requires the inspector general of DHS must submit a report summarizing the results of any substantiated investigations concerning fraud, waste and abuse regarding the child and adult care food program and summer food service program every three months.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously. It is currently pending action in the House Calendar and Rules Committee, where it is sponsored by Representative Tim Wirgau (R-Buchanan), before moving to the floor of the House of Representatives for a final vote.

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