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DSS Food Stamp Program Recognized With Award for Accuracy

The Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services' Food Stamp Program recently received the Program Integrity Award for its commitment to payment accuracy at the 2009 Tri-Regional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Conference. DSS had fewer errors in making payments to Food Stamp recipients, closing existing Food Stamp cases and denying Food Stamps to an applicant than any other state in the USDA's Food and Nutrition Services' (FNS) Southwest region.

"This award is evidence of our employees' dedication to providing accurate quality services to our customers and of their commitment to being responsible stewards of public funds," said DSS Secretary Kristy Nichols. "Our employees are our agency's most valuable asset, and it is only through their hard work that we are able to ensure that families and children receive the supplemental nutrition assistance they truly need."

For Federal Fiscal Years 2005-2007, DSS achieved an average 5.5 percent combined payment error rate and negative payment error rate for Food Stamp case payments, closures and denials. The FNS Southwest region also includes New Mexico with a 6.12 percent combined rate, Arkansas with 6.16 percent, Oklahoma with 6.52 percent and Texas with 9.15 percent.

"For Louisiana households that rely on Food Stamps to provide good nutrition for their families each month, payment accuracy on the part of our program is extremely important," said Alison Neustrom, assistant secretary for DSS' Office of Family Support. "I am very proud of our staff for their dedication to accurately providing Food Stamps for families and children in our state. This award continues a long line of honors and awards our staff has received for their commitment to providing quality, efficient services for Louisiana."

DSS representatives accepted the award at the conference, which was held on June 2-3, 2009, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In addition to state agencies in the FNS Southwest Region, state agencies from the Southeast and Mountain Plains regions also were in attendance.

In February 2009, DSS' Food Stamp Program received DM Review's 2008 Innovative Solution Award in the Business Intelligence/Analytics category for its use of mapping technology to help detect fraudulent activity in the state's Food Stamp Program.

In 2008, DSS received an award from the USDA for Outstanding and Timely Customer Service in the regular Food Stamp program. Louisiana, with a timeliness rate of 95.44 percent, was one of six states to receive the award for "timeliest processed applications" during Federal Fiscal Year 2007.

In June 2007, the program received three awards at the FNS Tri-Regional Food Stamp Program Improvement Conference in Atlanta - a Quality Control Star Award, a Financial Management Award and a Pinnacle Award.

Louisiana received the 2007 Quality Control Star Award based on measurable standards of excellence in quality control, including timeliness of transmission, case completion rate, accuracy and data validity. The Financial Management Award was awarded for excellence in initial budget projections based on DSS's variance of only 1.1 percent between the original budget submission for Fiscal Year 2006 and final reported expenditures. The Pinnacle Award was awarded to 19 states, including Louisiana for excellence in Food Stamp Program management and dedication to improving customer service.