Project: Program Integrity and Improved Service to the Working Poor Under Alternative Reporting Plans
Award Year: 1999
Amount of award, fiscal 1999: $348,428.00
Institution: The SPHERE Institute
Principal Investigator: Thomas MaCurdy
Status: Completed
Detailed Objective: This work evaluates alternative Food Stamp Program (FSP) reporting schemes to determine which best serves the working poor and preserves program integrity. In order to provide States greater flexibility in reporting requirements, The Hunger Prevention Act of 1988 permitted States to replace the previously mandated monthly reporting and retrospective budgeting (MRRB) requirement for households with earnings with a change reporting and prospective budgeting (CRPB) scheme. However, California has been reluctant to adopt CRPB in place of MRRB because of concerns that benefit levels could differ from what clients currently receive, quality control (QC) error rates and fraud rates could increase, and fraud prosecutions could become more difficult. Despite these concerns, CRPB is appealing to county welfare agencies because they believe such a reporting system will greatly improve client service. County agencies also anticipate that CRPB will reduce the amount of time staff spend checking, processing, and acting on monthly reports, freeing them to spend more time working directly with clients to enhance their self-sufficiency.

Data from the upcoming shift in California from MRRB to CRPB will be used to compare the two schemes. The work will

  • determine whether FSP eligibility and benefit levels change under the alternative reporting schemes;
  • measure how the change from MRRB to CRPB affects administrative staff time and other costs;
  • evaluate client satisfaction with CRPB relative to MRRB.

An experimental test will be performed involving two alternative timings for face-to-face recertification interviews with CRPB in order to determine the most effective ways to minimize threats to program integrity. The work will also develop a profiling model that program administrators can use to target resources in a way to avert errors and fraud. A cooperative assistance agreement was awarded to The SPHERE Institute in collaboration with the Solano County Health and Social Services Department. Its cost is $348,428 in fiscal 1999. The expected completion date of the project is July 2002.

Topic: Poverty, Program Operations, School Lunch and Breakfast, SNAP/Food Stamp Program
Dataset: Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)
MaCurdy, T., and G. Marrufo. The MID-SIPP Model: A Simulation Approach for Projecting Impacts of Changes in the Food Stamp Program, Contractor and Cooperator Report No. 24, USDA, ERS, October 2006.