Feasibility of Assessing Causes of State Variation in Food Stamp Program Administrative Costs
The total cost of State administrative expenses (SAE) in the Food Stamp Program (FSP) was $5.5 billion in FY 2007. (On October 1, 2008, the Food Stamp Program will change its name to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP). While the Federal Government pays 100 percent of the cost of food stamp benefits, SAE are shared about 50/50 between the States and the Federal Government. These costs vary substantially between States. While the national average SAE was $469 per case in FY2007, State averages ranged from $169 in South Carolina to $1,169 in California. This study examines the feasibility of assessing causes of variation in SAE by addressing two fundamental sets of questions: Is it possible to measure SAE consistently across States to credibly assess the degree of variation? Are alternative ways to measure SAE needed? If so, what level of effort is needed? Can SAE variation be explained in the absence of a controlled experiment? If yes, what are the alternative approaches? Which are recommended?