Report 2016-139 All Recommendation Responses

Report 2016-139: California Department of Education: It Has Not Ensured That School Food Authorities Comply With the Federal Buy American Requirement (Release Date: July 2017)

Recommendation #1 To: Education, Department of

To strengthen its administrative reviews and help ensure that school food authorities comply with the Buy American requirement, Education should update its written procedures to include a requirement that reviewers collect and retain evidence for all items they evaluate for compliance with the Buy American requirement. This update should occur no later than October 1, 2017.

60-Day Agency Response

Education's status on this recommendation is unchanged; no additional comments will be forthcoming.

  • Response Date: October 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Will Not Implement

We discuss in our report how, because of the limited evidence they are provided, managers who oversee Education's administrative reviews are not in a position to know about differences in how reviewers are assessing compliance with the Buy American requirement. We continue to believe that Education's administrative reviews would be strengthened by having its reviewers collect supporting evidence for all items they evaluate.


Recommendation #2 To: Education, Department of

To strengthen its administrative reviews and help ensure that school food authorities comply with the Buy American requirement, Education should update its written procedures to include guidance for how its reviewers should interpret common food labels with regard to compliance with the Buy American requirement. It should develop this guidance in consultation with the USDA and should begin working with the USDA by no later than October 1, 2017.

60-Day Agency Response

On September 11, 2017, Education provided additional training and guidance to staff regarding the review of food labels for compliance with the Buy American requirements. Further, Education obtained additional guidance on the evaluation of product labels during a USDA management evaluation technical assistance visit on July 31, 2017. Education continues to work with the USDA as they update the Administrative Manual and the Buy American requirements.

  • Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: October 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Partially Implemented

Education provided training to its staff related to the interpretation of common food labels and what those labels should lead a reviewer to determine about compliance with the Buy American requirement. Education has not yet provided to us updated procedures for its reviewers that incorporate this guidance. Accordingly, we assess this recommendation as partially implemented.

  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Recommendation #3 To: Education, Department of

To comply with federal regulations and provide transparency to the public, Education should immediately post to its website a summary of the results of any administrative reviews that it has shared with the relevant school food authorities. Moving forward, it should comply with federal regulations by posting the results of administrative reviews to its website within 30 days of sharing them with school food authorities.

60-Day Agency Response

Education submitted a change request to the technology contractor to post the Administrative Review (AR) results on the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) Web site. The change request is currently being assessed by the contractor. Posting of administrative review results can be implemented once required approvals are obtained and all changes are finalized on the CNIPS Web site.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2018
  • Response Date: October 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending


Recommendation #4 To: Education, Department of

To ensure that school food authorities comply with the Buy American requirement, Education should develop, no later than December 31, 2017, a training course that explains to school food authorities how to comply with the Buy American requirement. Further, as soon as it develops this training, Education should make it available to all school food authorities.

60-Day Agency Response

Due to the CSA's system constraints limiting the size of the explanation field, Education submitted the 60-day update for this recommendation (as well as for all of the other recommendations, which were not restricted due to size) via e-mail. Education's response demonstrates corrective actions taken towards fully implementing the recommendation.

  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2017
  • Response Date: October 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Fully Implemented

Education has made a training video available to all school food authorities through its website and notified them of the availability of the training. The video details the Buy American requirement and step school food authorities should take to maintain compliance.


Recommendation #5 To: Education, Department of

To ensure that school food authorities comply with the Buy American requirement, Education should use procurement reviews or its administrative reviews to verify that school food authorities have policies and procedures that address the Buy American requirement. Further, Education should verify that these policies and procedures align with the USDA's guidance for including Buy American-related language in bid solicitations and contract documents and for maintaining exception documentation for foreign-sourced food purchases.

60-Day Agency Response

Due to the CSA's system constraints limiting the size of the explanation field, Education submitted the 60-day update for this recommendation (as well as for all of the other recommendations, which were not restricted due to size) via e-mail. Education's response demonstrates corrective actions taken towards fully implementing the recommendation.

  • Estimated Completion Date: June 2018
  • Response Date: October 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending

Education has provided detail regarding its plans to conduct procurement and administrative reviews in accordance with the applicable USDA guidance. It has provided school food authorities with guidance related to its procurement reviews that indicates that authorities should consider addressing the Buy American requirement in their policies or procedures. It is not clear from the response Education provided whether it will use its procurement or administrative reviews specifically to verify that school food authorities have policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement.


Recommendation #6 To: Elk Grove Unified School District

To help ensure that they consistently comply with the Buy American requirement, Elk Grove should establish written policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement by October 1, 2017. At a minimum, those policies and procedures should include the following:
- An explanation of how it will ensure that it consistently includes language related to the Buy American requirement in its bid solicitation documents and contracts.
- A minimum expectation for how regularly it will verify that food items its vendors provide are domestic commodities or products.
- A requirement that its staff identify the need to purchase foreign-sourced items as early as possible in the food purchasing process and that they begin documenting the justification for such exceptions to the Buy American requirement at that time.
- Guidance for how it will maintain documentation showing that its purchases of foreign-sourced food items meet one of the two allowable exceptions.

60-Day Agency Response

Draft Board Policy and Administrative Regulations: Board Policy 3551 and Administrative Regulation 3551 detail the requirements and procedures the district will follow and maintain in regard to the Buy American Provision. It is anticipated that these policies will be adopted by the EGUSD Board of Education on or prior to January 16, 2018.

Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) Procurement Procedure: Per the audit, EGUSD FNS's procurement procedure was in draft form at the time of the audit. Since the date of the audit the procurement procedure has been finalized and further refined to include more specific direction in regard to the Buy American Provision. This procedure is now in practice and all appropriate staff have been trained and counseled on the procedure and practice.

Bid/RFP Procurement Specifications: Per the audit, EGUSD included adequate language in its bid/RFP notifications related to the Buy American requirement in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. However, EGUSD has strengthened the language which will be included in all future bids/RFP's to ensure that prospective and contracted vendors fully understand the requirement including the requirement of providing the necessary documentation throughout the procurement and contractual duration. This procedure is now in practice.

Contract Language: EGUSD will immediately include appropriate Buy American language in all food procurement contracts to ensure that contracted vendors will be required to produce necessary documentation throughout the procurement and contractual duration. This procedure is now in practice.

  • Estimated Completion Date: January 16, 2018
  • Response Date: September 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Partially Implemented

Elk Grove has finalized procurement procedures that describe that it will include language related to the Buy American requirement in its bid solicitations and contracts. However, as it indicates in its response, formal policies have not yet been approved by the board of education. Also, the procurement procedures that Elk Grove developed do not set minimum expectations for how often staff will verify that the food items its vendors provide are domestic commodities or products or describe how the district will maintain exception documentation.


Recommendation #7 To: Fresno Unified School District

To help ensure that they consistently comply with the Buy American requirement, Fresno should establish written policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement by October 1, 2017. At a minimum, those policies and procedures should include the following:
- An explanation of how it will ensure that it consistently includes language related to the Buy American requirement in its bid solicitation documents and contracts.
- A minimum expectation for how regularly it will verify that food items its vendors provide are domestic commodities or products.
- A requirement that its staff identify the need to purchase foreign-sourced items as early as possible in the food purchasing process and that they begin documenting the justification for such exceptions to the Buy American requirement at that time.
- Guidance for how it will maintain documentation showing that its purchases of foreign-sourced food items meet one of the two allowable exceptions.

60-Day Agency Response

Fresno Unified School District has fully implemented the Buy American Provision procedures to fully address the State Auditor's recommendation as of September 21, 2017. Fresno Unified School District's Buy American Provision written procedure to address Buy American Provision background, food contracts and bid solicitation, monitoring and inspection, menu planning, non-domestic foods purchased allowable exception documentation, and Buy American Provision forms.

Fresno Unified School District is committed to complying with the Buy American Provision of the federal William F. Goodling Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 1998.

A copy of Fresno Unified School District's written Buy American Provision procedures has been submitted to Katrina Solorio via email to katrinas@auditor.ca.gov .

  • Completion Date: September 2017
  • Response Date: September 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #8 To: Los Angeles Unified School District

To help ensure that they consistently comply with the Buy American requirement, Los Angeles should establish written policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement by October 1, 2017. At a minimum, those policies and procedures should include the following:
- An explanation of how it will ensure that it consistently includes language related to the Buy American requirement in its bid solicitation documents and contracts.
- A minimum expectation for how regularly it will verify that food items its vendors provide are domestic commodities or products.
- A requirement that its staff identify the need to purchase foreign-sourced items as early as possible in the food purchasing process and that they begin documenting the justification for such exceptions to the Buy American requirement at that time.
- Guidance for how it will maintain documentation showing that its purchases of foreign-sourced food items meet one of the two allowable exceptions.

60-Day Agency Response

Los Angeles Unified School District has revised the Buy American Provision for USDA Meal Programs' Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) #P-1077, to ensure that the "Buy American" Provision is incorporated into the templates used for Invitations for Bids (IFBs) and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) of perishable and shelf-stable groceries. The revised SOP includes details of the procedures to be followed when awarding or amending contracts and/or purchase orders that include foreign products as well as the receiving process to check various product details that includes Country of Origin. Also, the revision includes the procedure by which new and/or substitute foreign grown/manufactured products are procured via a contract amendment after approval by the Director of Food Services or his/her designee.

  • Completion Date: May 2017
  • Response Date: September 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Partially Implemented

Los Angeles's written procedures identify how it will ensure it includes language related to the Buy American requirement in its bid solicitation documents and contracts, that staff should identify the need for foreign-sourced items early in the procurement process, and how it will maintain documentation showing that its purchases of foreign-sourced items meet the allowable exceptions to the Buy American requirement. However, its procedures do not include a minimum expectation for how regularly it will verify that food items its vendors provide are domestic commodities or products.

  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Recommendation #9 To: San Diego Unified School District

To help ensure that they consistently comply with the Buy American requirement, San Diego should establish written policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement by October 1, 2017. At a minimum, those policies and procedures should include the following:
- An explanation of how it will ensure that it consistently includes language related to the Buy American requirement in its bid solicitation documents and contracts.
- A minimum expectation for how regularly it will verify that food items its vendors provide are domestic commodities or products.
- A requirement that its staff identify the need to purchase foreign-sourced items as early as possible in the food purchasing process and that they begin documenting the justification for such exceptions to the Buy American requirement at that time.
- Guidance for how it will maintain documentation showing that its purchases of foreign-sourced food items meet one of the two allowable exceptions.

60-Day Agency Response

The Food and Nutrition Services Department at San Diego Unified is still in the process of finalizing the written policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement. However, many components have already been completed. The Strategic Sourcing and Contracts department desk guide for Food & Nutrition Services has language which specifically states that all food bids must contain language related to the Buy American requirement. The language in the desk guide includes the specific language that shall be inserted into any bid solicitation document. Food & Nutrition Services has also developed a specific plan to inspect products to verify that items provided by vendors are domestic products. Beginning in January 2018, the department will perform quarterly physical inspections of the Food Services warehouse as well as three production kitchens to verify the country of origin for selected products. Products will be selected from various food categories and the findings will be documented and kept on file. Food & Nutrition Services is also developing an internal form to be used to document any foreign sourced products that meet one of the two allowable exceptions. The development of the form will be completed by November 2017, and all items meeting the allowable exceptions will be kept on file. Procedures for all the Buy American requirements have been developed and Food and Nutrition Services is in the process of completing the final written policies related to these requirements.

  • Estimated Completion Date: November 3, 2017
  • Response Date: September 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Partially Implemented

San Diego has developed procedures for inspections of food products to verify compliance with the Buy American requirement. However, as it indicates in its response, it is still finalizing other policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement.


Recommendation #10 To: San Francisco Unified School District

To help ensure that they consistently comply with the Buy American requirement, San Francisco should establish written policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement by October 1, 2017. At a minimum, those policies and procedures should include the following:
- An explanation of how it will ensure that it consistently includes language related to the Buy American requirement in its bid solicitation documents and contracts.
- A minimum expectation for how regularly it will verify that food items its vendors provide are domestic commodities or products.
- A requirement that its staff identify the need to purchase foreign-sourced items as early as possible in the food purchasing process and that they begin documenting the justification for such exceptions to the Buy American requirement at that time.
- Guidance for how it will maintain documentation showing that its purchases of foreign-sourced food items meet one of the two allowable exceptions.

Recommendation #11 To: Stockton Unified School District

To help ensure that they consistently comply with the Buy American requirement, Stockton should establish written policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement by October 1, 2017. At a minimum, those policies and procedures should include the following:
- An explanation of how it will ensure that it consistently includes language related to the Buy American requirement in its bid solicitation documents and contracts.
- A minimum expectation for how regularly it will verify that food items its vendors provide are domestic commodities or products.
- A requirement that its staff identify the need to purchase foreign-sourced items as early as possible in the food purchasing process and that they begin documenting the justification for such exceptions to the Buy American requirement at that time.
- Guidance for how it will maintain documentation showing that its purchases of foreign-sourced food items meet one of the two allowable exceptions.

60-Day Agency Response

Submission e-mailed to Katrina Solorio.

  • Estimated Completion Date: 1/27/2018
  • Response Date: September 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending

Stockton indicated in its emailed response that it is in the process of establishing written policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement. It provided evidence that recent food solicitations included a certification sheet that vendors used to certify that the products they provided to Stockton were compliant with the Buy American requirement.


Recommendation for Legislative Action

To ensure effective oversight of the meal programs and to increase public transparency, the Legislature should require Education to track school food authorities' purchases of foreign-sourced food items and to post to its website the school food authorities that purchase foreign-sourced food items, the types of food items they purchase, and the countries of origin of the food items they purchase.

Description of Legislative Action

SB 730 (Pan, Chapter 571, Statutes of 2017) would have implemented this recommendation, but was substantially amended. As enacted, this statute requires the California Department of Education to take certain actions to monitor and enforce the Buy American provision that are authorized by and conform to federal law.

  • Legislative Action Current As-of: November 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Legislation Proposed But Not Enacted


Recommendation for Legislative Action

To address the challenges food labels present to ensuring that California's school food authorities purchase domestic food items, the Legislature should work with the California congressional delegation and request that Congress direct the USDA to establish a voluntary certification program through which the USDA could certify that food products are compliant with the Buy American requirement. This certification program should include an indicator, such as a certification logo, that would identify that products comply with the requirement.

Description of Legislative Action

Legislation was not proposed to address this specific recommendation.

  • Legislative Action Current As-of: November 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: No Action Taken


All Recommendations in 2016-139

Agency responses received are posted verbatim.