Friday, September 06, 2013

Why Washington Employment in FSA Grows

From a recent GAO report on FSA enforcement of the adjusted gross income limits:
" For example, GAO found errors in 19 of the 22 tax return files it reviewed from FSA offices in two states; one of these errors led to a potentially improper payment of $40,000. FSA headquarters does not monitor state offices' reviews of tax returns to ensure that the offices are applying program guidance consistently and making accurate eligibility determinations, even though federal standards for internal control direct agencies to monitor and assess the quality of performance over time. Also, 2008 Farm Bill provisions requiring a distinction between farm and nonfarm income make it difficult for agency officials to verify if participants' incomes exceed the limits without making errors. Because the statutory limits for farm and nonfarm income differ, to verify such income, FSA officials must comb through sometimes long and complex tax returns to classify and calculate income--a difficult task for those who are not accountants or tax preparers. Recent bills in the House and Senate have proposed using total adjusted gross income instead of farm and nonfarm income, which would reduce the need for FSA to review tax returns."  [emphasis added]
People like to talk about the top-heavy Washington bureaucracy of various agencies, including FSA (yes, I'm looking at you NASCOE).  It's good to mock the proliferation of well-paid bigshots at both departmental and agency levels. But one should also remember that no one outside the agency is ready to trust field (in this case, state office) people to do things 100 percent right and to accept the mistakes if they don't.

I'd praise GAO for recommending simplifying the rules.  I'd also note the indications that some accountants and attorneys actually lie to FSA!  I'm shocked, shocked I say.

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