Louisiana's public health office has done a poor job of monitoring a federal nutrition program for poor women and children, allowing stores to sell expired food and overcharge for groceries, according to an audit released Monday.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's public health office has done a poor job of monitoring a federal nutrition program for poor women and children, allowing stores to sell expired food and overcharge for groceries, according to an audit released Monday.
Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office reviewed the Office of Public Health's administration of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, called WIC.
The audit said OPH didn't verify grocery prices charged through the program, overpaid for food, didn't follow federal regulations governing the program and often didn't sanction vendors for unsanitary conditions in stores or expired products on shelves.
The Department of Health and Hospitals, which oversees OPH, requested the review of the program, which cost $126 million in the 2011-2012 budget year and provided services to 145,000 women and children in the state.
In response to the findings, the health department announced Monday it is revamping its WIC oversight and changing procedures for monitoring vendors and their prices. The department said it will create a monitoring database and a guidance manual for stores that participate in the program and WIC employees.
"We requested this audit to guide us in improving the WIC program for those who rely on its critical services, while also protecting taxpayer dollars and ensuring that any bad vendors are no longer allowed to participate in the program," DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said in a statement.
The WIC program offers food, nutrition education, health screening and referrals to other available social services for pregnant women, women who have recently given birth and children up to their fifth birthday.
Purpera's office said the state may have been overcharged as much a $655,000 during the budget year because the public health office didn't assign many of the stores to the right WIC category, which limits the prices they can charge for individual items.
The audit said OPH also didn't verify that stores were charging the prices they reported. For example, auditors found that one store was charging the program $21.99 for infant formula, when the allowed amount was capped at $14.89.
The public health office didn't regularly sanction stores for not following program rules. When the auditor's office went with OPH staff on four monitoring visits, the office didn't take any action after finding cheese that had expired four years earlier and infant food that was nine months past its expiration date.
Auditors found vendors that had repeat violations but received only warning letters.
"These issues occurred because the OPH state office does not sufficiently oversee and track the results of its routine vendor monitoring," the audit said.
The health department agreed with all of the auditor's recommendations and said that within a few months, inspections will be done by the same workers who inspect restaurants and other retail food operations in Louisiana. DHH pledged new monitoring techniques and oversight.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the federal WIC program, must approve the state's guidance manual and tracking database before they can be used.
That fact that New Orleans led both games in the final 10 seconds of regulation, and lost each by a field goal or less, is of little solace.
The superintendent will make another go at getting a budget passed for the already commenced fiscal year as the LPSB is slated to meet tonight on the eve of the state’s budget adoption deadline.
A person familiar with the situation says New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram has a broken hand.
It seeks an investigation into a $100,000 fund transfer from Vitter's federal campaign account to an independent PAC supporting Vitter's 2015 candidacy for governor.
Landrieu has acknowledged that she improperly billed her Senate office for nearly $43,000 in charter costs that should have been paid from her campaign account.
House District 45 Rep. Joel Robideaux is term-limited and running for city-parish president next year, leaving his seat up for grabs come 2015 and at least three likely contenders so far, including ...
When the Browns explained their plans to Brian Hoyer about bringing rookie Johnny Manziel into the game, Cleveland's starting quarterback bit his lip and devised one of his own.
National debate over solitary confinement puts spotlight on Angola inmate’s 35 years in ‘the hole’
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Baja braces for Hurricane Odile; what a Scottish "yes" means; Mideast complexities and more national and international news for Monday, September 15, 2014.
If you didn’t know Alison, Sheriff Mike Neustrom’s 42-year-old daughter who died Wednesday after battling cancer for a year, you missed out on something really special.
Asserting that the LPSB's taxpayer-funded report on the results of the superintendent investigation is a public record, TDA's executive editor takes the gloves off.
Tyson Dupuis accumulated three OWI arrests in less than 10 years, with his most recent resulting in the death of an 18-year-old Crowley woman in 2011, yet his punishment would only amount to a year in prison.
Hugh Freeze has firsthand knowledge of the Sun Belt Conference, having coached at Arkansas State in 2011 before moving on to Mississippi.
A federal grand jury has charged a 56-year-old Lafayette man with income tax fraud for allegedly failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income.
The LPSB voted 6-3 to accept charges against Superintendent Pat Cooper and pave the way for his upcoming termination hearing.
The timing of U.S. District Judge Richard Haik's semi-retirement paves the way for a Dem, and perhaps the first African American, to serve the Western District.
After months of clamoring for Superintendent Pat Cooper’s job, the LPSB will get its chance this afternoon to get the ball rolling with a special meeting at 2:30 p.m.
Voters trying to sift through the details of 14 constitutional amendments on the Nov. 4 ballot have a guide they can consult.
Delcambre now has a boat launch that can handle four boats at a time and a new pavilion for the seafood and farmer's market.
Drew Brees sees plenty to like about the way New Orleans' offense is shaping up, even if it's not yet reflected in the win column.
About a week after mistakenly using a Twitter hashtag for the Cincinnati Bengals to wish the New Orleans Saints good luck, the Cassidy camp refers to the EPA as the “Energy Protection Agency.”
Lawmakers launched their latest effort Wednesday to try to chip away at a $12 billion backlog of road and bridge repair and improvement work across Louisiana, seeking ideas to raise new transportation dollars in an anti-tax environment.
The congressman has rejected two other debates in which Landrieu had agreed to participate.
When we got the emergency-meeting agenda via email today we thought, “Hmmm ... cooler on the blink ... coroner ... corpses ... this could be bad.”