USDA has announced a new federal-state partnership to target recipient fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
By law, USDA is responsible for overseeing the more than 250-thousand retailers that redeem SNAP benefits nationwide.
The states are responsible for identifying and pursuing fraudulent activity by recipients. USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon says USDA has a lot of experience in identifying and pursuing retailer fraud through data mining.
He says USDA can use that experience to arm states with sharper tools to ensure integrity on the recipient side through the identification of suspicious activity and improving tactics to catch the recipients attempting to commit SNAP fraud. This effort is the latest in the SNAP Stewardship Solutions Porject, USDA’s ongoing work to ensure SNAP integrity.
While fraud is rare in SNAP, Concannon says fraud at any level is not tolerated. He says the department is committed to working with states to make improvements that provide Americans with the excellence they deserve when it comes to wisely managing their investment in SNAP.
Wednesday’s announcement involves the signing of data-sharing Memorandums of Understanding between USDA and the states of Maryland and Virginia. Using the data collected under these MOUs and other information-sharing agreements, USDA will develop an enhanced monitoring tool for states similar to the department’s state-of-the-art Anti-fraud Locator using EBT Retailer Transactions, or ALERT - system.
The ALERT system is used by USDA to monitor the millions of electronic retailer transactions that happen each day. ALERT helps USDA identify suspicious stores for analysis and investigation, better target high risk areas and quickly implement fraud detection scans as new schemes are identified.