DSHS receives two-year federal grant to enhance food benefit accuracy
OLYMPIA — The Department of Social and Health Services recently received nearly $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue its ongoing work of detecting and preventing food benefits fraud. Washington is one of nine states awarded the two-year grants, which are intended to help increase the accuracy of household Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits and protect taxpayer dollars.
“Our state has long been recognized as a leader in food benefits accuracy and fraud detection,” said DSHS Secretary Cheryl Strange. “We’re proud to receive this grant, which allows us to continue to develop innovative ways to ensure the continued integrity of this vital program, and to increase fraud prevention without reducing crucial access to food for Washington residents.”
The funds will create a database and dashboard, two additional tools in a cross-agency partnership that supports building measures to detect fraud proactively and improves the use of data analytics to monitor and predict potential incidents of food benefits trafficking.
“This injection of necessary funding supports just one of many strategies DSHS employs to maintain accurate, timely and efficient access for its clients every day,” explained Deborah Doyle, director of the DSHS Division of Program Integrity, which, together with the Office of Fraud and Accountability, will manage the grant work. “In these troubling economic times, creative approaches are even more necessary.”
Together with the agency’s Community Services Division, which administers SNAP benefits, these DSHS offices work together on prevention, implementing improvements and making investigation referrals. They also work with county prosecutors as well as local state, federal and international law enforcement agencies, when necessary, to maintain a strong, multifaceted approach to fraud that also includes prosecution and cost-recovery.
“This grant allows us to continue testing ideas and developing best practices around SNAP fraud prevention and detection, which is part of our foundational work of being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Steve Lowe, director of the DSHS Office of Fraud and Accountability.
Washington’s grant total is $698,947 and runs Sept. 30, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2022. Eight other states also received SNAP Fraud Framework Implementation Grants.
If you suspect food benefits fraud, you can report it online or by calling the agency’s 24-hour Fraud Hotline at 800‐562‐6906.