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Report Number: 2016-139

California Department of Education
It Has Not Ensured That School Food Authorities Comply With the Federal Buy American Requirement

Appendix

Although School Food Authorities We Surveyed Reported They Had Certain Measures In Place to Help Ensure Compliance With the Buy American Requirement, Our Follow-Up Analysis Proved Otherwise

In addition to reviewing six school districts, we surveyed a random selection of school food authorities throughout the State to determine the means they use to ensure their compliance with the Buy American requirement and the countries of origin of their food items purchased for school years 2014–15 through 2016–17. We asked these school food authorities a number of questions, including key questions about whether they maintain policies and related procedures pertaining to the Buy American requirement, whether they have included language in their procurement documents about the Buy American requirement, and whether they have ever used one of the exceptions to the Buy American requirement to purchase foreign‑sourced food items. A significant majority of the school food authorities that responded to our survey stated that they had policies and related procedures pertaining to the Buy American requirement and that they included Buy American‑related language in their procurement documents.

These survey results were markedly different from the results of our on‑site reviews of six school districts. Because of this, we contacted 19 of the survey respondents to obtain support for their responses to key questions. All 19 of these respondents had attested to maintaining policies and procedures. However, we found that four—Burlingame Elementary School District, Da Vinci School, Heber Elementary School District, and Marin County Office of Education—did not respond to our requests for corroborating evidence, and an additional five school food authorities incorrectly stated that they had policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement. Of the five who initially responded incorrectly, three— Downey Unified School District, Muroc Joint Unified School District, and San Jacinto Unified School District—were not able to provide policies and procedures related to the Buy American requirement, and two—Salinas City Elementary School District and Santa Paula Unified School District—confirmed that they only have draft policies and procedures that have not yet been approved by their boards and implemented.

For the remaining 10 school food authorities that responded to our follow‑up request, only three could provide evidence that they had both policies and procedures for complying with the Buy American requirement. An additional two provided a policy that related to the Buy American requirement but had no associated procedures for ensuring that they met the requirement, while five school food authorities could only prove that they had procedures related to the Buy American requirement, but no associated policies.

Further, 17 of the 19 respondents had attested to including Buy American language in their procurement documents. However, we found that four—as we described previously—did not respond to our requests for corroborating evidence, and another four of these school food authorities incorrectly stated that they had included language related to the Buy American requirement. All four who initially responded incorrectly—ASA Charter School, Bonita Unified School District, Pleasanton Unified School District, and Salinas City Elementary School District—did not provide evidence demonstrating that they included language related to the Buy American requirement in their bid solicitations and contracts. The remaining nine school food authorities that responded provided evidence to corroborate their claims that they had included language related to the Buy American requirement in their bid solicitations and contracts.

Based on the responses we received to our follow‑up requests, we believe that the survey results depicted a more positive view of how formally school food authorities have approached the Buy American requirement than is warranted. Therefore, we do not present the results of our survey.

 



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