USDA Award $30 Million To States For Exceptional Administrator Of Food Stamp Program
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that $30 million will be awarded to states demonstrating excellence in administering Food Stamp Program benefits in Fiscal Year (FY) 2006. Among those states, Nebraska and Vermont reported an exceptional 0.00 negative error rate, which indicates those two states served every eligible individual in the quality control sample who applied for benefits. The overall national payment accuracy rate for FY 2006 was 94.01 percent.
“One of USDA’s top priorities is to increase access to and participation in the Food Stamp Program while maintaining program integrity and I commend all states that have ensured efficient, accurate and effective administration of this crucial program,” said Johanns. “In addition to increasing our nutrition assistance budget by 70 percent since 2001, our 2007 Farm Bill proposes to bring even more help to families in need.”
USDA’s 2007 Farm Bill proposes to improve access to food stamp benefits by excluding college education, retirement savings accounts and military combat pay when determining eligibility for benefits and eliminating the cap on dependent child care expenses. To improve nutrition for those who benefit from other nutrition programs,
USDA proposes to spend $2.75 billion over the next 10 years to purchase fruits and vegetables for commodity programs. USDA also proposes to spend an additional $500 million on fruits and vegetables specifically for USDA school meals programs.
As authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, each year USDA awards $24 million among the seven states with the best payment accuracy rates and the three states with the most improved payment accuracy rates. The states with the best payment accuracy rates in FY 2006 were South Dakota, Missouri, Washington, Mississippi, North Carolina, Hawaii, and the Virgin Islands. The most improved states were Rhode Island, Idaho and New York.
An additional $6 million will be divided among the four states with the lowest negative error rates and the two states with the most improved negative error rates. The states with the lowest negative rate in FY 2006 were Vermont, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. The most improved were Vermont and Rhode Island. Because Vermont qualified as one of the top states with the lowest negative error rate as well as a most improved state, Minnesota, the fifth state with the lowest negative error rate also will receive an award.
The payment accuracy rate measures overpayments and underpayments to recipients.
The negative error rate measures improper denials or termination of benefits.
“I am pleased to report the national average of 5.99 percent remains well below our strategic target goal of 6.2 percent,” said Agriculture Under Secretary Nancy Johner. “To ensure increased program integrity, FNS will continue to support our state partners in their efforts to improve customer service and payment accuracy.”
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