Project: The Evaluation of EBT Customer Service Waivers on Recipients
Award Year: 1998
Amount of award, fiscal 1998: $647,255.00
Institution: Abt Associates, Inc.
Principal Investigator: John Kirlin
Status: Completed
Detailed Objective: The objectives of this project are to:
  • characterize client service problems associated with Food Stamp Program electronic benefit transfer (EBT) system customer service waivers and identify how clients respond; and
  • estimate the occurrence of client service problems associated with EBT customer service waivers.

Regulations governing implementation and operation of EBT systems include several customer service standards. As EBT has developed and expanded, the Food and Nutrition Service has allowed States to try alternative service policies via waivers. The principal waivers employed by States includes: (1) training recipient by mail versus training in person; (2) PIN assignment versus PIN selection; and, (3) alternative procedures for card replacement. Approximately one-half of the States currently operating an EBT system have implemented some combination of the three principal waivers. While waivers have generally saved States money, there are reports by client advocate groups of instances in which some of the alternative policies create problems for some recipients, especially vulnerable ones like the elderly and the disabled. This project will provide the Department with an assessment of the extent to which EBT customer service waivers adversely affect client services, and particularly their effects on the vulnerable subgroups. A contract was awarded to Abt Associates, Inc., for a cost of $647,255 in fiscal 1998. The expected completion date is September 2000.

Topic: Program Operations, SNAP/Food Stamp Program
Kirlin, J., and C. Logan. Effects of EBT Customer Service Waivers on Food Stamp Recipients: Executive Summary, Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Report No. 23, USDA, ERS, April 2002.
Kirlin, J., and C. Logan. Effects of EBT Customer Service Waivers on Food Stamp Recipients: Final Report, E-FAN-02-007, UDSA, ERS, June 2002.