By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, June 16 – The USDA said today that the department, in cooperation with state partners, has improved payment accuracy and program integrity in the nation’s largest nutrition assistance program.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack commended selected states for their work in administering the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in fiscal 2010, achieving a 96.19 percent accuracy, the fourth consecutive year the program has achieved a historically high rate.

Vilsack said the rate underscores an ongoing effort to make government more accountable to the American people. "The Obama administration has made it clear that we will track down and eliminate misspent tax dollars in every agency and department across the federal government,” said Vilsack. “USDA and our state agency partners have done just that in achieving historically high accuracy rates in SNAP and we will continue to make improvements that protect taxpayer dollars while putting healthy food on the table for struggling individuals and families.”

Under the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, each state agency is responsible for monitoring and improving its administration of SNAP. The SNAP Quality Control System determines the accuracy of the benefits authorized. The national payment error rate was 3.81 percent in FY 2010, a record low. Without this improvement, FY 2010 improper payments would have been $356 million higher.

USDA officials that working in collaboration with the department, state agencies continue to enhance SNAP program integrity even as demand has increased in response to national economic conditions. Officials cite this year's investment in process improvement efforts that examine local office processes and identify and implement efficiencies.

The department is also showing interest in funding projects that use technology to achieve procedural changes, such as document imaging, telephone interviews or web-based access to case status information.

A list of states recognized for their performance in administering the SNAP program can be found by clicking HERE.