Food Stamp Program:

The Household Definition Is Not a Major Source of Caseworker Errors

RCED-90-183: Published: Jul 26, 1990. Publicly Released: Aug 6, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Food Stamp Program, focusing on whether the household definition caseworkers use to compute food stamp benefits is a significant cause of caseworker errors.

GAO found that: (1) in fiscal year (FY) 1988, caseworkers' incorrect eligibility determinations relating to household definition resulted in between $23 million and $75 million in food stamp errors; (2) the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) tracks errors which lead to improper benefit determinations and groups them into three categories; (3) for FY 1988, FNS estimated that mistakes occurred in about 23.9 percent of all food stamp cases, which resulted in total erroneous payments of about $1 billion; and (4) the FNS method for categorizing food stamp errors has been useful for its program management purposes, but does not effectively track caseworker errors.

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