sure of its annual performance to implement the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA). That law requires government agencies to account for progress toward intended results of their activities. It requires that specific performance goals be established and that annual measurement of these output goals be undertaken to determine the success or failure of the program. The panel was asked to comment on the applicability of these data for this purpose.
The panel concludes that an overall national estimate of food insecurity is not appropriate as a measure for meeting the requirements of the GPRA. Even an appropriate measure of food insecurity or hunger using appropriate samples would not be a useful performance indicator of food assistance programs, because their performance is only one of many factors that result in food insecurity or hunger. Consequently, changes in food insecurity and hunger could be due to many factors other than the performance of the food safety net.
The panel concludes that relying exclusively on trends in prevalence estimates of food insecurity as an indicator of program results is inappropriate. To assess program results, a better understanding is needed of the transitions into and out of poverty made by low-income households and the kind of unexpected changes that frequently bring about alterations—for good or bad—in households participating in food assistance programs.
The panel is impressed with the extensive research thus far undertaken, and with the continuing research carried out by USDA. The panel urges that the research program be continued and makes several recommendations for its direction in the future.
The panel concludes that the measurement both of food insecurity and of hunger is important. The recommendations in the report are intended to improve these measurements, so that policy makers and the public can be better informed. Toward this end, the panel has recommended research efforts that should lead to improved concepts, definitions, and measurement of food insecurity and hunger. The panel has provided a detailed discussion of the analytical methods used by USDA and made recommendations for further research to improve the accuracy of the food insecurity scale and on survey alternatives. The panel recognizes that such research will take time.
On the basis of its findings and conclusions, the panel presents recommendations in five areas: concepts and definitions, labeling of food insecu-