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Federal Government Awards Maryland $1.67 Million Bonus For Improving Food Stamp Payment Accuracy

Federal Government Awards Maryland $1.67 Million Bonus For Improving Food Stamp Payment Accuracy

Maryland was the most improved state in the nation in FFY 2012

BALTIMORE, MD (June 25, 2013)— The Maryland Department of Resources (DHR) has significantly improved its food stamp payment accuracy rate, reducing casework errors by more than half last year, which makes Maryland one of the most improved states in the nation, Secretary Ted Dallas announced today.

In recognition of this achievement, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) is awarding Maryland an incentive payment of $1.67 million. DHR will use the one-time bonus to invest in new technology to further improve caseload processing.

“In Maryland, we are committed to strengthening our safety net for our families and children,” said Governor O’Malley. “Our accuracy rate – the highest rate ever recorded in Maryland — helps us ensure that families are receiving the appropriate monthly benefits, and that we can continue to make the better choices to help us reach our goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015. I’d like to thank our federal partners for recognizing Maryland as a national leader in improving food stamp payment accuracy and providing families with the resources and assistance they need.”

Preliminary information from the USDA shows that DHR’s error rate for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012 was 3.40 percent, the lowest year-end rate the department has ever recorded. In FFY 2010, the error rate was 7.68 percent. The downward trend is continuing: from Oct. 1 through the month of January 2013, DHR’s preliminary SNAP payment error rate is 1.57 percent.

“The $1.67 million bonus payment is a testament to the hard work of our Family Investment team, we couldn’t have done it without them,” Secretary Dallas said. “Even better, our preliminary error rate thus far this year is down 80 percent from 2010 and is now the eleventh best rate in the nation. Our goal is to finish the year in the top 10.”

Maryland had been subject to federal penalties when the state’s error rate was more than 105% of the national average for two consecutive years.

“Last year’s record-high 96 percent payment accuracy rate reflects our ongoing investment of resources and technical assistance at the state level,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “We applaud our Maryland partners for their efforts to improve program administration, while still maintaining access to this critical nutrition assistance program for families and young children.”

According to the USDA, two-thirds of all SNAP payment errors are a result of caseworker error. DHR was able to improve its SNAP payment accuracy rate through a concerted effort that included moving to electronic record keeping, expanding employee training opportunities and recognizing local departments of social services for exceeding quarterly performance goals.

Maryland’s progress came at a time when the state has seen unprecedented growth in demand for program benefits. Last year, DHR processed more than 27,000 new Food Supplement Program applications, and more than 354,000 low-income households in Maryland were able to buy the food they need for good health.

 

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