WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2011 - USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today commended select states and the District of Columbia for making program improvements to ensure Americans eligible for the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) received benefits in a timely manner, in addition to improved program efficiency and integrity.
“USDA is working every day to spend less but invest wisely and to make sure that our programs are operating efficiently as we bring assistance to Americans in need,” said Concannon. “USDA and our state agency partners continue to make improvements that strengthen the nutrition safety net while helping hard-working individuals and families transition to self-sufficiency.”
USDA provides monetary incentives to the eight states with the best and most improved program access index. The program access index is the ratio of participants to the number of persons below 125 percent of poverty and reflects State performance in reaching those eligible for nutrition benefits. USDA also provides monetary incentives to the six states with the highest rate of timely processed applications, an important indicator of customer service in administering the Program.
Working in collaboration with USDA, state agencies continue to enhance SNAP program integrity even as demand has increased in response to national economic conditions. This year, USDA is investing in process improvement efforts that examine local office processes and identify and implement efficiencies. The department is also interested in funding projects that use technology to achieve procedural changes, such as document imaging, telephone interviews or web-based access to case status information. Today's announcement proves that states’ efforts to ensure program integrity and improve their process for administering SNAP are working.
“Improving access and customer service in SNAP is critically important for the millions of individuals, children and families who rely on these benefits to put healthy food on the table each month,” noted Concannon. “Today’s announcement underscores that state efforts to improve the process to administer SNAP are working.”
States recognized for their exemplary and timely customer service in Fiscal Year 2010 are:
Best Program Access Index:
District of Columbia $550,833
Most Improved Program Access Index:
Delaware see ‘best’ above
New Hampshire $438,214
Michigan see ‘best’ above
Best Application Processing Timeliness:
District of Columbia $518,936
New Mexico $1,056,711
West Virginia $1,082,661
North Dakota $272,769
The District of Columbia earned a timeliness bonus for the fourth time and third consecutive year. West Virginia has earned a timeliness bonus seven times. This is the first time Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Oregon have earned a timeliness bonus.
FNS oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs. These programs serve one in four Americans over the course of a year and work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. SNAP is the largest of these programs. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.