(a) General. This section sets forth the procedures the State agency shall perform in the selection of local agencies and the expansion, reduction, and disqualification of local agencies already in operation. In making decisions to intitiate, continue, and discontinue the participation of local agencies, the State agency shall give consideration to the need for Program benefits as delineated in the Affirmative Action Plan.
(b) Application of local agencies. The State agency shall require each agency, including subdivisions of the State agency, which desires approval as a local agency, to submit a written local agency application. After the receipt of an incomplete application, the State agency shall provide written notification to the applicant agency of the additional information needed. After the receipt of a complete application, the State agency shall notify the applicant agency in writing of the approval or disapproval of its application. When an application is disapproved, the State agency shall advise the applicant agency of the reasons for disapproval and of the right to appeal as set forth in § 246.18. When an agency submits an application and there are no funds to serve the area, the applicant agency shall be notified that there are currently no funds available for Program initiation or expansion. The applicant agency shall be notified by the State agency when funds become available.
(c) Program initiation and expansion. The State agency shall meet the following requirements concerning Program initiation and expansion:
(1) The State agency will consider the Affirmative Action Plan (see § 246.4(a)(5)) when funding local agencies and expanding existing operations, and may consider how much of the current need is being met at each priority level. The selection criteria cited in paragraph (d)(1) of this section shall be applied to each area or special population before eliminating that area from consideration and serving the next area of special population. The State agency shall consider the number of participants in each priority level being served by existing local agencies in determining when it is appropriate to move into additional areas in the Affirmative Action Plan or to expand existing operations in an area. Additionally, the State agency shall consider the total number of people potentially eligible in each area compared to the number being served.
(2) The State agency shall provide a written justification to FNS for not funding an agency to serve the highest priority area or special population. Such justification may include its inability to administer the Program, lack of interest expressed for operating the Program, or for those areas or special populations which are under consideration for expansion of an existing operation, a determination by the State agency that there is a greater need for funding an agency serving an area or special population not operating the Program. The State agency shall use the participant priority system in § 246.7 as a measurement of greater need in such determination.
(3) The State agency may fund more than one local agency to serve the same area or special population as long as more than one local agency is necessary to serve the full extent of need in that area or special population.
(d) Local agency priority system. The State agency shall establish standards for the selection of new local agencies. Such standards shall include the following considerations:
(1) The State agency shall consider the following priority system, which is based on the relative availability of health and administrative services, in the selection of local agencies:
(i) First consideration shall be given to a public or a private nonprofit health agency that will provide ongoing, routine pediatric and obstetric care and administrative services.
(ii) Second consideration shall be given to a public or a private nonprofit health or human service agency that will enter into a written agreement with another agency for either ongoing, routine pediatric and obstetric care or administrative services.
(iii) Third consideration shall be given to a public or private nonprofit health agency that will enter into a written agreement with private physicians, licensed by the State, in order to provide ongoing, routine pediatric and obstetric care to a specific category of participants (women, infants or children).
(iv) Fourth consideration shall be given to a public or private nonprofit human service agency that will enter into a written agreement with private physicians, licensed by the State, to provide ongoing, routine pediatric and obstetric care.
(v) Fifth consideration shall be given to a public or private nonprofit health or human service agency that will provide ongoing, routine pediatric and obstetric care through referral to a health provider.
(2) The State agency must, when seeking new local agencies, publish a notice in the local media (unless it has received an application from a local public or nonprofit private health agency that can provide adequate services). The notice will include a brief explanation of the Program, a description of the local agency priority system (outlined in this paragraph (d)), and a request that potential local agencies notify the State agency of their interest. In addition, the State agency will contact all potential local agencies to make sure they are aware of the opportunity to apply. If an application is not submitted within 30 days, the State agency may then select a local agency in another area. If sufficient funds are available, a State agency will give notice and consider applications outside the local area at the same time.
(e) Disqualification of local agencies.(1) The State agency may disqualify a local agency—
(i) When the State agency determines noncompliance with Program regulations;
(ii) When the State's Program funds are insufficient to support the continued operation of all its existing local agencies at their current participation level; or
(iii) When the State agency determines, following a review of local agency credentials in accordance with paragraph (f) of this section, that another local agency can operate the Program more effectively and efficiently.
(2) The State agency may establish its own criteria for disqualification of local agencies. The State agency shall notify the local agency of any State-established criteria. In addition to any State established criteria, the State agency shall consider, at a minimum—
(i) The availability of other community resources to participants and the cost efficiency and cost effectiveness of the local agency in terms of both food and nutrition services and administration costs;
(ii) The percentages of participants in each priority level being served by the local agency and the percentage of need being met in each participant category;
(iii) The relative position of the area or special population served by the local agency in the Affirmative Action Plan;
(iv) The local agency's place in the priority system in paragraph (d)(1) of this section; and
(v) The capability of another local agency or agencies to accept the local agency's participants.
(3) When disqualifying a local agency under the Program, the State agency shall—
(i) Make every effort to transfer affected participants to another local agency without disruption of benefits;
(ii) Provide the affected local agency with written notice not less than 60 days in advance of the pending action which includes an explanation of the reasons for disqualification, the date of disqualification, and, except in cases of the expiration of a local agency's agreement, the local agency's right to appeal as set forth in § 246.18; and
(iii) Ensure that the action is not in conflict with any existing written agreements between the State and the local agency.
(f) Periodic review of local agency qualifications. The State agency may conduct periodic reviews of the qualifications of authorized local agencies under its jurisdiction. Based upon the results of such reviews the State agency may make appropriate adjustments among the participating local agencies, including the disqualification of a local agency when the State agency determines that another local agency can operate the Program more effectively and efficiently. In conducting such reviews, the State agency shall consider the factors listed in paragraph (e)(2) of this section in addition to whatever criteria it may develop. The State agency shall implement the procedures established in paragraph (e)(3) of this section when disqualifying a local agency.