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Food Stamp Program: Payment Errors and Trafficking Have Declined despite Increased Program Participation

GAO-07-422T Published: Jan 31, 2007. Publicly Released: Jan 31, 2007.
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Stamp Program is intended to help low-income individuals and families obtain a better diet by supplementing their income with benefits to purchase food. USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the states jointly implement the Food Stamp Program, which is to be reauthorized when it expires in fiscal year 2007. This testimony discusses our past work on two issues related to ensuring integrity of the program: (1) improper payments to food stamp participants, and (2) trafficking in food stamp benefits. This testimony is based on a May 2005 report on payment errors (GAO-05-245) and an October 2006 report on trafficking (GAO-07-53). For the payment error report, GAO analyzed program quality control data and interviewed program stakeholders, including state and local officials. For the trafficking report, GAO interviewed agency officials, visited field offices, conducted case file reviews, and analyzed data from the FNS retailer database.

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AccountabilityCriminal investigationErroneous paymentsErrorsFood relief programsInternal controlsMonitoringOverpaymentsProgram evaluationProgram managementQuality controlRisk assessmentRisk managementUnderpayments