OIG receives grant to fight SNAP fraud

The OIG’s data-driven fraud detection efforts are getting a half-million dollar boost from the federal government.

In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded the Texas Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) $500,000 to create an automated data analytics model for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

With the ultimate goal of protecting taxpayer dollars and continuing to inspire public confidence in the SNAP program, the funds are part of $5 million in grants the USDA awarded to nine states. The grants are intended to fund new and expanded strategies for reducing recipient fraud and payment errors.

The OIG’s fraud detection model will analyze SNAP recipient and vendor data from the eligibility, enrollment and usage data systems across HHS, integrating it in one place. By evaluating SNAP data across all HHS programs, the OIG can better coordinate investigative efforts on recipients and vendors identified as likely engaging in fraud.

Investigations initiated based on the model are expected to produce additional restitutions, recoveries and disqualifications of individuals and vendors through either prosecutions or administrative proceedings.

“We’re grateful for this award and are ready to translate dollars into action, especially in regard to EBT trafficking,” says Inspector General Sylvia Hernandez Kauffman. “Each year our teams identify individuals and large groups of people across the state selling SNAP cards for cash. Employing additional data into our strategies will help continue to deliver the results that ensure Texas tax dollars are used for their intended purpose.”

The USDA also awarded HHS’s Access and Eligibility Services’ Integrity Support Services $21,650 for IP Analytics software to determine a client’s location when submitting an application.