Non-Merit System Personnel Guidance for Call Centers (2020 Revision)
Building on best practices to date and consistent with USDA’s efforts to improve customer service and increase state flexibility within the bounds of the law, while continuing to encourage states as laboratories of innovation, FNS is once again expanding allowable activities for states seeking to use vendor/private staff in call centers. The additional functions for which states may use, with FNS approval, vendor/private staff to perform are:
- screening for eligibility;
- providing application assistance;
- answering client questions about missing information;
- pursuing missing information; and
- providing verification guidance.
States have indicated that these additional flexibilities will provide improved customer service, reduce applicant and participant wait times, decrease workload on state agency employees, and allow for better coordination across multiple human service programs. In addition to these activities requiring FNS approval, FNS has also expanded the tasks that vendor/private staff can perform without FNS approval. The additional tasks include:
- providing general information;
- providing locations and referrals;
- responding to requests for blank applications; and
- providing the following read-only information from the system: case status, application status, receipt of documentation, benefit amount and date, and case denial reason.
Please see the attached memo and guidance document for more information.