Several states are upgrading their data, computer systems, and personnel intelligence to combat fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program thanks to recent U.S. Department of Agriculture grants.
For fiscal year 2022, six states and the District of Columbia received SNAP Fraud Framework Implementation Grants to improve “fraud prevention, detection, and investigation efforts by implementing the principles of the SNAP Fraud Framework, a toolkit designed to help states prevent and detect fraud and refine their investigative techniques,” Food and Nutrition Service officials said.
The SNAP program “has zero tolerance for fraud and continues to work with its state partners to implement measures to improve program integrity,” FNS officials said in the fraud detection request for applications. “While most recipients are eligible and using their benefits as intended, some violate program rules.”
The funds will be dedicated to efforts promoting the seven components of the SNAP Fraud Framework: Organizational Management, Performance Measurement, Recipient Integrity Education, Fraud Detection, Investigations and Dispositions, Data Analytics and Management, and Learning and Development.
The District of Columbia received $708,849 to support efforts to “improve the administration of SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards by addressing card security and data reporting, improving data and surveys with improved technology and by hiring a data analysis manager,” FNS said in the district award statement. The district will also invest in educational materials to prevent SNAP fraud.
So far, the Wyoming Department of Family Services has received the largest prize – $750,000. The funds will be used to develop an initial eligibility investigation process that will use tools such as Accuity’s asset verification services to detect illicit SNAP cases. The FNS said the process could allow employees “to quickly review suspicious cases to verify information provided by applicants and/or identify undeclared assets.”
Wisconsin is following closely with a $741,751 award that the Department of Health Services will use to develop a data analytics program that will present current and incoming SNAP data in a new, easier-to-use format. FNS officials said this update will quickly detect deceptive SNAP transactions, identify fraud patterns, and make data and data analysis more accessible to analysts and investigators.
The California Department of Social Services has received $740,000 that will help integrate an automated data analytics model into the state’s fraud investigation process. The model could help “investigators and data analytics personnel better focus their investigative efforts on recipients who are revealed by data analytics to be at risk of engaging in SNAP fraud, including traffic EBT,” SNSF officials said in the award statement.
Texas was another recipient with a $404,037 award to its Health and Human Services Commission. Texas will use the money to create a fraud prevention training program in addition to sending 15 HHSC employees to national conferences and staff development training. The grant will also support the creation of “integrity education materials to educate SNAP clients about reporting requirements and program rules,” FNS officials said.
The Illinois Department of Social Services will use its $352,091 award for educational services that will be made available to SNAP customers, SNAP Fraud Unit members, and eligible frontline workers. These individuals will learn about beneficiary scams, misuse of benefits, detection, investigation and prosecution of fraud, according to the Illinois award statement.
Finally, the Oregon Department of Social Services received $245,067 to create a “temporary position to perform data analysis and research to identify patterns of deception within the program and develop strategies to generate quality investigative referrals,” FNS officials said. Adding the position will help prioritize staff workloads and could generate more referrals, according to the agency. The incumbent would also lead outreach efforts and training of field staff in addition to educating SNAP customers on fraud awareness.
Prior to the launch of the SNAP Fraud Framework, the FNS partnered with 10 states between 2014 and 2017 to test strategies used to advance fraud detection analytics, improve administration, and increase The surveillance.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to combating fraud, and each state may require a different approach to improving program integrity,” SNSF officials said in the application. “The SNAP Fraud Framework recognizes the state’s need for flexibility by providing a menu of options that states can implement as they strive to improve program operations and efforts.”