7 CFR 246.16 - Distribution of funds.
(a) General. This paragraph describes the timeframes for distribution of appropriated funds by the Department to participating State agencies and the authority for the Secretary to use appropriated funds for evaluation studies and demonstration projects.
(1) Authorized appropriations to carry out the provisions of this section may be made not more than 1 year in advance of the beginning of the fiscal year in which the funds shall become available for disbursement to the State agencies. The funds shall remain available for the purposes for which appropriated until expended.
(2) In the case of appropriations legislation providing funds through the end of a fiscal year, the Secretary shall issue to State agencies an initial allocation of funds provided under such legislation not later than the expiration of the 15-day period beginning on the date of the enactment and subsequent allocation of funds shall be issued not later than the beginning of each of the second, third and fourth quarters of the fiscal year.
(3) Allocations of funds pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section shall be made as follows: The initial allocation of funds to State agencies shall include not less than 1/3 of the appropriated amounts for the fiscal year. The allocation of funds to be made not later than the beginning of the second and third quarters shall each include not less than 1/4 of the appropriated amounts for the fiscal year.
(4) In the case of legislation providing funds for a period that ends prior to the end of a fiscal year, the Secretary shall issue to State agencies an initial allocation of funds not later than the expiration of the 10-day period beginning on the date of enactment. In the case of legislation providing appropriations for a period of not more than 4 months, all funds must be allocated to State agencies except those reserved by the Secretary to carry out paragraph (a)(6) of this section.
(5) In any fiscal year unused amounts from a prior fiscal year that are identified by the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year shall be recovered and reallocated not later than the beginning of the second quarter of the fiscal year. Unused amounts from a prior fiscal year that are identified after the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year shall be recovered and reallocated on a timely basis.
(6) Up to one-half of one percent of the sums appropriated for each fiscal year, not to exceed $5,000,000, shall be available to the Secretary for the purpose of evaluating Program performance, evaluating health benefits, providing technical assistance to improve State agency administrative systems, preparing reports on program participant characteristics, and administering pilot projects, including projects designed to meet the special needs of migrants, Indians, rural populations, and to carry out technical assistance and research evaluation projects for the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program.
(b) Distribution and application of grant funds to State agencies. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds made available to the State agencies for the Program in any fiscal year will be managed and distributed as follows:
(1) The State agency shall ensure that all Program funds are used only for Program purposes. As a prerequisite to the receipt of funds, the State agency shall have executed an agreement with the Department and shall have received approval of its State Plan.
(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all funds not made available to the Secretary in accordance with paragraph (a)(6) of this section shall be distributed to State agencies on the basis of funding formulas which allocate funds to all State agencies for food costs and NSA costs incurred during the fiscal year for which the funds had been made available to the Department. Final State agency grant levels as determined by the funding formula and State agency breastfeeding promotion and support expenditure targets will be issued in a timely manner.
(3) When may I transfer funds from one fiscal year to another? - (i) Back spend authority. The State agency may back spend into the prior fiscal year up to an amount equal to one percent of its current year food grant and one percent of its current year NSA grant. Food funds spent back may be used only for food costs incurred during the prior fiscal year. NSA funds spent back may be used for either food or NSA costs incurred during the prior fiscal year. With prior FNS approval, the State agency may also back spend food funds up to an amount equal to three percent of its current year food grant in a fiscal year for food costs incurred in the prior fiscal year. FNS will approve such a request only if FNS determines there has been a significant reduction in infant formula cost containment savings that affected the State agency's ability to maintain its participation level.
(ii) Spend forward authority. (A) The State agency may spend forward NSA funds up to an amount equal to three (3) percent of its total grant (NSA plus food grants) in any fiscal year. These NSA funds spent forward may be used only for NSA costs incurred in the next fiscal year. Any food funds that the State agency converts to NSA funds pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section (based on projected or actual participation increases during a fiscal year) may not be spent forward into the next fiscal year. With prior FNS approval, the State agency may spend forward additional NSA funds up to an amount equal to one-half of one percent of its total grant. These funds are to be used in the next fiscal year for the development of a management information system, including an electronic benefit transfer system.
(B) Funds spent forward will not affect the amount of funds allocated to the State agency for any fiscal year. Funds spent forward must be the first funds expended by the State agency for costs incurred in the next fiscal year.
(iii) Reporting requirements. In addition to obtaining prior FNS approval for certain spend forward/back spending options, the State agency must report to FNS the amount of all funds it already has or intends to back spend and spend forward. The spending options must be reported at closeout.
(c) Allocation formula. State agencies shall receive grant allocations according to the formulas described in this paragraph. To accomplish the distribution of funds under the allocation formulas, State agencies shall furnish the Department with any necessary financial and Program data.
(1) Use of participation data in the formula. Wherever the formula set forth in paragraphs (c)(2) and (c)(3) of this section require the use of participation data, the Department shall use participation data reported by State agencies according to § 246.25(b).
(2) How is the amount of NSA funds determined? The funds available for allocation to State agencies for NSA for each fiscal year must be sufficient to guarantee a national average per participant NSA grant, adjusted for inflation. The amount of the national average per participant grant for NSA for any fiscal year will be an amount equal to the national average per participant grant for NSA issued for the preceding fiscal year, adjusted for inflation. The inflation adjustment will be equal to the percentage change between two values. The first is the value of the index for State and local government purchases, as published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Department of Commerce, for the 12-month period ending June 30 of the second preceding fiscal year. The second is the best estimate that is available at the start of the fiscal year of the value of such index for the 12-month period ending June 30 of the previous fiscal year. Funds for NSA costs will be allocated according to the following procedure:
(i) Fair share target funding level determination. For each State agency, FNS will establish, using all available NSA funds, an NSA fair share target funding level which is based on each State agency's average monthly participation level for the fiscal year for which grants are being calculated, as projected by FNS. Each State agency receives an adjustment to account for the higher per participant costs associated with small participation levels and differential salary levels relative to a national average salary level. The formula shall be adjusted to account for these cost factors in the following manner: 90 percent of available funds shall provide compensation based on rates which are proportionately higher for the first 15,000 or fewer participants, as projected by FNS, and 10 percent of available funds shall provide compensation based on differential salary levels, as determined by FNS.
(ii) Base funding level. To the extent funds are available and subject to the provisions of paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section, each State agency shall receive an amount equal to 100 percent of the final formula-calculated NSA grant of the preceding fiscal year, prior to any operational adjustment funding allocations made under paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section. If funds are not available to provide all State agencies with their base funding level, all State agencies shall have their base funding level reduced by a pro-rata share as required by the shortfall of available funds.
(iii) Fair share allocation. Any funds remaining available for allocation for NSA after the base funding level required by paragraph (c)(2)(ii) of this section has been completed and subject to the provisions of paragraph (c)(2)(iv) of this section shall be allocated to bring each State agency closer to its NSA fair share target funding level. FNS shall make fair share allocation funds available to each State agency based on the difference between the NSA fair share target funding level and the base funding level, which are determined in accordance with paragraphs (c)(2)(i) and (c)(2)(ii) of this section, respectively. Each State agency's difference shall be divided by the sum of the differences for all State agencies, to determine the percent share of the available fair share allocation funds each State agency shall receive.
(iv) Operational adjustment funds. Each State agency's final NSA grant shall be reduced by up to 10 percent, and these funds shall be aggregated for all State agencies within each FNS region to form an operational adjustment fund. The Regions shall allocate these funds to State agencies according to national guidelines and shall consider the varying needs of State agencies within the region.
(v) Operational level. The sum of each State agency's stability, residual and operational adjustment funds shall constitute the State agency's operational level. This operational level shall remain unchanged for such year even if the number of Federally-supported participants in the program at such State agency is lower than the Federally-projected participation level. However, if the provisions of paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section are applicable, a State agency will have its operational level for NSA reduced in the immediately succeeding fiscal year.
(3) Allocation of food benefit funds. In any fiscal year, any amounts remaining from amounts appropriated for such fiscal year and amounts appropriated from the preceding fiscal year after making allocations under paragraph (a)(6) of this section and allocations for nutrition services and administration (NSA) as required by paragraph (c)(2) of this section shall be made available for food costs. Allocations to State agencies for food costs will be determined according to the following procedure:
(i) Fair share target funding level determination. (A) For each State agency, FNS will establish a fair share target funding level which shall be an amount of funds proportionate to the State agency's share of the national aggregate population of persons who are income eligible to participate in the Program based on the 185 percent of poverty criterion. The Department will determine each State agency's population of persons categorically eligible for WIC which are at or below 185% of poverty, through the best available, nationally uniform, indicators as determined by the Department. If the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) also operates in the area served by the WIC State agency, the number of participants in such area participating in the CSFP but otherwise eligible to participate in the WIC Program, as determined by FNS, shall be deducted from the WIC State agency's population of income eligible persons. If the State agency chooses to exercise the option in § 246.7(c)(2) to limit program participation to U.S. citizens, nationals, and qualified aliens, FNS will reduce the State agency's population of income eligible persons to reflect the number of aliens the State agency declares no longer eligible.
(B) The Department may adjust the respective amounts of food funds that would be allocated to a State agency which is outside the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia when the State agency can document that economic conditions result in higher food costs for the State agency. Prior to any such adjustment, the State agency must demonstrate that it has successfully implemented voluntary cost containment measures, such as improved vendor management practices, participation in multi-state agency infant formula rebate contracts or other cost containment efforts. The Department may use the Thrifty Food Plan amounts used in SNAP, or other available data, to formulate adjustment factors for such State agencies.
(ii) Prior year grant level allocation. To the extent funds are available, each State agency shall receive a prior year grant allocation equal to its final authorized grant level as of September 30 of the prior fiscal year. If funds are not available to provide all State agencies with their full prior year grant level allocation, all State agencies shall have their full prior year grant level allocation reduced by a pro-rata share as required by the shortfall of available funds.
(iii) Inflation/fair share allocation. (A) If funds remain available after the allocation of funds under paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section, the funds shall be allocated as provided in this paragraph (c)(3)(iii). First, FNS will calculate a target inflation allowance by applying the anticipated rate of food cost inflation, as determined by the Department, to the prior year grant funding level. Second, FNS will allocate 80 percent of the available funds to all State agencies in proportionate shares to meet the target inflation allowance. Third, FNS will allocate 20 percent of the available funds to each State agency which has a prior year grant level allocation, as determined in paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section and adjusted for inflation as determined in this paragraph (c)(3)(iii), which is still less than its fair share target funding level. The amount of funds allocated to each State agency shall be based on the difference between its prior year grant level allocation plus target inflation funds and the fair share funding target level. Each State agency's difference shall be divided by the sum of the differences for all such State agencies, to determine the percentage share of the 20 percent of available funds each State agency shall receive. In the event a State agency declines any of its allocation under either this paragraph (c)(3)(iii) or paragraph (c)(3)(ii) of this section, the declined funds shall be reallocated in the percentages and manner described in this paragraph (c)(3)(iii). Once all State agencies receive allocations equal to their full target inflation allowance, any remaining funds shall be allocated or reallocated, in the manner described in this paragraph (c)(3)(iii), to those State agencies still under their fair share target funding level.
(B) In the event funds still remain after completing the distribution in paragraph (c)(3)(iii)(A) of this section, these funds shall be allocated to all State agencies including those with a stability allocation at, or greater than, their fair share allocation. Each State agency which can document the need for additional funds shall receive additional funds based on the difference between its prior year grant level and its fair share allocation. State agencies closest to their fair share allocation shall receive first consideration.
(iv) Migrant services. At least 9/10 of one percent of appropriated funds for each fiscal year shall be available first to assure service to eligible members of migrant populations. For those State agencies serving migrants, a portion of the grant shall be designated to each State agency for service to members of migrant populations based on that State agency's prior year reported migrant participation. The national aggregate amount made available first for this purpose shall equal 9/10 of one percent of all funds appropriated each year for the Program.
(v) Special provisions for Indian State agencies. The Department may choose to adjust the allocations and/or eligibles data among Indian State agencies, or among Indian State agencies and the geographic State agencies in which they are located when eligibles data for the State agencies' population is determined to not fairly represent the population to be served. Such allocations may be redistributed from one State agency to another, based on negotiated agreements among the affected State agencies approved by FNS.
(4) Adjustment for new State agencies. Whenever a State agency that had not previously administered the program enters into an agreement with the Department to do so during a fiscal year, the Department shall make any adjustments to the requirements of this section that are deemed necessary to establish an appropriate initial funding level for such State agency.
(d) Distribution of funds to local agencies. The State agency shall provide to local agencies all funds made available by the Department, except those funds necessary for allowable State agency NSA costs and food costs paid directly by the State agency. The State agency shall distribute the funds based on claims submitted at least quarterly by the local agency. Where the State agency advances funds to local agencies, the State agency shall ensure that each local agency has funds to cover immediate disbursement needs, and the State agency shall offset the advances made against incoming claims as they are submitted to ensure that funding levels reflect the actual expenditures reported by the local agency. Upon receipt of Program funds from the Department, the State agency shall take the following actions:
(1) Distribute funds to cover expected food cost expenditures and/or distribute caseload targets to each local agency which are used to project food cost expenditures.
(2) Allocate funds to cover expected local agency NSA costs in a manner which takes into consideration each local agency's needs. For the allocation of NSA funds, the State agency shall develop an NSA funding procedure, in cooperation with representative local agencies, which takes into account the varying needs of the local agencies. The State agency shall consider the views of local agencies, but the final decision as to the funding procedure remains with the State agency. The State agency shall take into account factors it deems appropriate to further proper, efficient and effective administration of the program, such as local agency staffing needs, density of population, number of persons served, and availability of administrative support from other sources.
(3) The State agency may provide in advance to any local agency any amount of funds for NSA deemed necessary for the successful commencement or significant expansion of program operations during a reasonable period following approval of a new local agency, a new cost containment measure, or a significant change in an existing cost containment measure.
(e) Recovery and reallocation of funds. (1) Funds may be recovered from a State agency at any time the Department determines, based on State agency reports of expenditures and operations, that the State agency is not expending funds at a rate commensurate with the amount of funds distributed or provided for expenditures under the Program. Recovery of funds may be either voluntary or involuntary in nature. Such funds shall be reallocated by the Department through application of appropriate formulas set forth in paragraph (c) of this section.
(2) Performance standards. The following standards shall govern expenditure performance.
(i) The amount allocated to any State agency for food benefits in the current fiscal year shall be reduced if such State agency's food expenditures for the preceding fiscal year do not equal or exceed 97 percent of the amount allocated to the State agency for such costs. Such reduction shall equal the difference between the State agency's preceding year food expenditures and the performance expenditure standard amount. For purposes of determining the amount of such reduction, the amount allocated to the State agency for food benefits for the preceding fiscal year shall not include food funds expended for food costs incurred under the spendback provision in paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section or conversion authority in paragraph (g) of this section. Temporary waivers of the performance standard may be granted at the discretion of the Department.
(ii) Reduction of NSA grant. FNS will reduce the State agency's NSA grant for the next fiscal year if the State agency's current fiscal year per participant NSA expenditure is more than 10 percent higher than its per participant NSA grant. To avoid a reduction to its NSA grant level, the State agency may submit a “good cause” justification explaining why it exceeded the applicable limit on excess NSA expenditures. This justification must be submitted at the same time as the close-out report for the applicable fiscal year. Good cause may include dramatic and unforeseen increases in food costs, which would prevent a State agency from meeting its projected participation level.
(iii) Spend forward funds. If any State agency notifies the Department of its intent to spend forward a specific amount of funds for expenditure in the subsequent fiscal year, in accordance with paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section, such funds shall not be subject to recovery by the Department.
(f) How do I qualify to convert food funds to NSA funds based on increased participation? - (1) Requirements. The State agency qualifies to convert food funds to NSA funds based on increased participation in any fiscal year in two ways:
(i) Approved plan. A State agency may submit a plan to FNS to reduce average food costs per participant and to increase participation above the FNS-projected level for the State agency. If approved, the State agency may use funds allocated for food costs to pay NSA costs.
(ii) Participation increases achieved. The State agency may also convert food funds to NSA funds in any fiscal year if it achieves, through acceptable measures, increases in participation in excess of the FNS-projected level for the State agency. Acceptable measures include use of cost containment measures, curtailment of vendor abuse, and breastfeeding promotional activities. FNS will disallow the State agency's conversion of food funds to NSA funds in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section if:
(A) The State agency increases its participation level through measures that are not in the nutritional interests of participants; or
(B) It is not otherwise allowable under program regulations.
(2) Limitation. The State agency may convert food funds only to the extent that the conversion is necessary -
(i) To cover NSA expenditures in the current fiscal year that exceed the State agency's NSA grant for the current fiscal year and any NSA funds which the State agency has spent forward into the current fiscal year; and
(ii) To ensure that the State agency maintains the level established for the per participant NSA grant for the current fiscal year.
(3) Maximum amount. The maximum amount the State agency may convert equals the State agency's conversion rate times the projected or actual participation increase, as applicable. The conversion rate is the same as the per participant NSA grant and is determined by dividing the State agency's NSA grant by the FNS-projected participation level. The NSA grant used in the calculation equals the initial allocation of current year funds plus the operational adjustment funding allocated to the State agency for that fiscal year.
(g) How do I qualify to convert food funds to NSA funds for service to remote Indian or Native villages? - (1) Eligible State agencies. Only State agencies located in noncontiguous States containing a significant number of remote Indian or Native villages qualify to convert food funds to NSA funds under this paragraph (g) in any fiscal year.
(2) Limitation. In the current fiscal year, food funds may be converted only to the extent necessary to cover expenditures incurred:
(i) In providing services (including the full cost of air transportation and other transportation) to remote Indian or Native villages; and
(ii) To provide breastfeeding support in those areas that exceed the State agency's NSA grant for the current fiscal year and any NSA funds which the State agency has spent forward into the current fiscal year.
(h) What happens at the end of the fiscal year in which food funds are converted? At the end of the fiscal year, the Department will determine the amount of food funds which the State agency was entitled to convert to NSA funds under paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section. In the event that the State agency has converted more than the permitted amount of funds, the Department will disallow the amount of excess conversion.
(i) How do converted funds affect the calculation of my prior year food grant and base NSA grant? For purposes of establishing a State agency's prior year food grant and base NSA grant under paragraphs (c)(2)(i) and (c)(3)(i) of this section, respectively, amounts converted from food funds to NSA funds under paragraphs (f) and (g) of this section and § 246.14(e) during the preceding fiscal year will be treated as though no conversion had taken place.
(j) Inflation adjustment of the fruit and vegetable voucher. The monthly cash value of the fruit and vegetable voucher shall be adjusted annually for inflation. Adjustments are effective the first day of each fiscal year beginning on or after October 1, 2008. The inflation-adjusted value of the voucher shall be equal to a base value increased by a factor based on the Consumer Price Index for fresh fruits and vegetables, as provided in this section.
(1) Adjustment year. The adjustment year is the fiscal year that begins October 1 of the current calendar year.
(2) Base value of the fruit and vegetable voucher. The base year for calculation of the value of the fruit and vegetable voucher is fiscal year 2008. The base value to be used equals:
(i) $8 for children; and
(ii) $10 for women.
(3) Adjusted value of the fruit and vegetable voucher. The adjusted value of the fruit and vegetable voucher is the cash value of the voucher for adjustment years beginning on or after October 1, 2008. The adjusted value is the base value increased by an amount equal to the base value of the fruit and vegetable voucher:
(i) Multiplied by the inflation adjustment described in paragraph (j)(4) of this section; and
(ii) Subject to rounding as described in paragraph (j)(5) of this section.
(4) Inflation adjustment. The inflation adjustment of the fruit and vegetable voucher shall equal the percentage (if any) by which the annual average value of the Consumer Price Index for fresh fruits and vegetables, computed from monthly values published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the twelve months ending on March 31 of the fiscal year immediately prior to the adjustment year, exceeds the average of the monthly values of that index for the twelve months ending on March 31, 2007.
(5) Rounding. If any increase in the cash value of the voucher determined under paragraph (j)(3) of this section is not a multiple of $1, such increase shall be rounded to the next lowest multiple of $1. However, if the adjusted value of the voucher for the adjustment year, as determined under paragraph (j)(3) of this section, is lower than the adjusted value for the fiscal year immediately prior to the adjustment year, then the adjusted value of the voucher will remain unchanged from that immediate prior fiscal year.