Congressman Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Chairman of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Subcommittee for the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement after the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Inspector General Phyllis Fong, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Karen Ellis and Assistant Inspector General for Audits Gil Harden testified before the Subcommittee.
"Combating waste, fraud and abuse of federal taxpayer dollars at USDA is no easy task, but it is a critical mission of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG)," said Aderholt. "While I appreciate that progress has been made by USDA, I remain very concerned with the high-dollar fraud happening in food and nutrition assistance programs like SNAP and WIC and USDA's longstanding challenges with information technology investments and security."
"The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) estimates there is $800 million in federal nutrition assistance that is spent fraudulently every year. However, a recent OIG report says FNS has not established processes to estimate or identify the total amount of SNAP fraud occurring nationwide. If USDA is not even sure it can estimate the fraud happening within its nutrition programs, how can we accurately and efficiently take steps to eliminate that fraud and improve the Department's programs?"
"In this day and age, cyber threats are one of the biggest dangers our country faces. Over the past three years, Congress has made a $66 million investment through the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) to address these issues. However, a recent audit found that despite this investment, there are more than 25 OIG recommendations that have not been acted upon. While it seems the OCIO is working to minimize cyber threats, this Subcommittee believes that the Department needs to do far more to address this urgent matter. This is a matter of our nation's economic security and should not be taken lightly."
"While I am pleased to see progress is being made in reducing fraud and mismanagement of taxpayer resources, significant waste and deficiencies within USDA still remain, and in today's tough budget environment we simply cannot afford to be wasteful."
Aderholt currently serves as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies for the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is a member of the Committee's Commerce, Justice and Science; and Homeland Security Subcommittees, and also serves on the Helsinki Commission.