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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Guam DOE Enacting School Meal Policy Changes
Program audit revealed revenue collection, oversight issues

By Louella Losinio

HAGTA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, Jan. 2, 2013) – After the Office of Public Accountability (OPA) transmitted the results of its school meal program cash control audit last month, the Guam Department of Education (GDOE) issued an official response letter addressing the findings and recommendations stated in the report.

OPA’s audit report criticized GDOE’s school meals program, stating it lacked oversight control. The audit also revealed fluctuations in cash collections and a decline in the number of meals served.

In addition, the report noted GDOE’s cash control over the program also revealed "no assurance that meals served were accurately reported and that all cash was collected."

The report covered findings culled from Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2011. The audit was conducted by OPA to determine whether "GDOE’s school meals cash collections were properly handled, adequately safeguarded, and accurately reported in a timely manner."

According to the report, shortages in collections from the program were unearthed by OPA from fiscal years 2009 to 2011, noting cash shortages of $33,000 in 2009 and $55,000 in 2010.

Policy

In a Dec. 26, 2012 letter addressed to OPA, GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez stated the department is addressing the recommendation set by OPA for the department to develop an official policy for accounting meals and collecting cash inclusive of standard formal training.

Fernandez stated: "GDOE is currently updating its existing Food and Nutrition Services standard operating procedures to be in line with the new financial management information system."

He added the process also "ensures that designated staffers assigned to the school lunch program are properly trained and that there will be strict adherence to the segregation of duties."

As part of the standard operating procedures, Fernandez said "the Food and Nutrition Services Management Division (FNSMD) would need to be notified of any changes to designated personnel occurring at the school sites so training can be provided to these individuals."

GDOE had also been urged by OPA to require the department’s Business Office and FNSMD to reconcile cash receipts and do a summary of monthly meal count reports as well as designate a person who will be responsible for the overall school meals program.

Fernandez responded by stating GDOE agrees with the recommendation for both units to reconcile cash receipts and do a summary of monthly meal count reports. He added the department will ensure that "both the Business Office and the Food and Nutrition Services Management Division collaborate to reconcile on a regular basis."

In terms of designating a person to be responsible for the overall school meals program, Fernandez said the department has already hired a Food and Nutrition Services administrator last August 2012.

The person has been tasked to oversee the operations of the Food and Nutrition Services Management Division and for developing and administering USDA Child Nutrition and Food Distribution Programs.

Because of the lack of applicants, GDOE has had challenges filling the position for several years, according to Fernandez.

After the draft result was disseminated to GDOE last December, a meeting was convened with GDOE management to discuss the findings and recommendations, according to OPA.

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