WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., has been stymied in his call for an audit of school meal programs.
Sasse recently asked the Government Accountability Office to conduct an audit that would build on a GAO review two years ago. The previous report identified problems with the government’s verification of eligibility for the program.
The accountability office told Sasse this week that the broader audit he’s seeking is impossible without access to a database known as the National Directory of New Hires, which is maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services.
HHS has taken the position that the GAO is not allowed access to that database, according to the GAO’s letter to Sasse.
In a statement provided by his office, Sasse criticized HHS for not allowing access to the database.
“Shouldn’t a school lunch program be targeted for the most needy kids?” he said. “Congress should make sure that the system isn’t being gamed at their expense.”