R-CALF USA Seeks Correction to OIG’s Beef Checkoff Audit Report
Billings, Mont. – In a supplemental complaint and request for correction filed last week, R-CALF USA formally requested a correction to the March 2013 audit report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) entitled "Agricultural Marketing Service Oversight of the Beef Research and Promotion Board’s Activities" (beef checkoff report).
Audit reports issued by the OIG are subject to the 2001 Data Quality Act (Act) implemented by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 2002. Congress passed the Act to ensure that information disseminated by federal agencies meets at least minimal standards for quality, objectivity, utility and integrity and is not corrupted or falsified. In addition, the Act provides a mechanism for affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information.
In its request for correction, R-CALF USA makes the case that the OIG’s beef checkoff report fails to meet even the most lenient interpretation of the terms objectivity and integrity. The group asserts the report is biased in favor of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) because it concluded that all beef checkoff expenditures from 2008 through 2010 were in accordance with all applicable legislation while an independent audit report disclosed that the NCBA had misappropriated over $216,000 in beef checkoff funds during the same time period.
"It cannot both be true that Beef Checkoff Program funds assessed in fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010 were distributed and expended in accordance with legislation and that the NCBA was required to reimburse the Beef Checkoff Program $216,944 for expenses it had charged to the Beef Checkoff Program in contradiction to the legislation in fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010," the group wrote.
R-CALF USA provides evidence that it said shows "the NCBA was known to have charged the Beef Checkoff Program for hundreds of thousands of dollars in unauthorized expenses and the only reason they were not allowed to keep their ill-gotten and unlawful gains was because they were caught red-handed by Clifton Gunderson, LLP (the independent auditing firm that disclosed the $216,944 in misappropriated funds)."
The group also asserts that the OIG audit was "a shameful waste of taxpayer money" because it attempted to conduct a random audit over the same time period that a much more targeted audit had already been conducted by an independent auditor:
"There simply is no logical reason that the OIG would choose to conduct its random hunt over the same terrain and during the same period where and when, respectively, a much more targeted hunt had already extinguished all the game. Unless, of course, it was the OIG’s intention all along to ensure that it came up empty-handed, which is the only plausible explanation for conducting such an incomplete report," wrote the group.
R-CALF USA also takes issue with the OIG’s claim that it had only received three complaints directed toward the beef checkoff during the course of its audit. "The OIG’s outrageous claim is demonstrably false," the group wrote and then proceeded to provide documented evidence that the OIG had received no less than 16 separate complaints from R-CALF USA alone during the course of the OIG audit.
The complaint contends the OIG’s beef checkoff report is corrupted, resulting in the OIG’s disseminated of false information to Congress, the public and to cattlemen that are required to pay into the checkoff.
Though the group makes several requests for the specific corrections it wants made to the OIG’s beef checkoff report, it ultimately concluded:
"Though R-CALF USA has made recommendations for correction, the egregious nature of the OIG Audit Report simply does not lend itself to correction. Therefore, R-CALF USA restates its original request that the OIG Audit Report be officially denounced as a colossal political sham and whitewash."
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.