Food Stamp Work Requirements:

Ineffective Paperwork or Effective Tool?

CED-78-60: Published: Apr 24, 1978. Publicly Released: Apr 24, 1978.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

Since 1971, able-bodied adults who receive food stamps and are not exempted by law have been required to register for and accept employment. These requirements were intended to affect the program in two ways: by finding recipients jobs so that they would no longer need assistance and by denying stamps to those who are able but unwilling to work.

The food stamp program's work registration requirements have not achieved the intended results. A random selection of 1,061 cases from applications approved during January 1976 found 620 recipients who were required to register for work. Of the 620, only 3 obtained jobs and only 233 registered at local employment offices. The remaining 384 recipients were not registered because: food stamp offices failed to have them fill out work registration forms, food stamp offices had not sent the completed forms to employment service offices, employment service offices had not distributed the forms to appropriate local offices, and forms had not reached the local employment service offices for various other reasons. Present procedures for evaluating work registration activities are not adequate because they do not provide information on the percentage of recipients who have not registered and whether the employment offices are receiving work registration forms and using them.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture and Labor should require: better information to be gathered on the effectiveness of the food stamp work requirements; closer monitoring of State and local activities implementing these requirements; and stronger action to correct identified problems, including finding out why required procedures are not being followed and what can be done to ensure that they are followed.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »