Phyllis K. Fong, Inspector General for the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, testified before Congress on Thursday about fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP is the USDA’s largest program, both in terms of participants and budget to the tune of $75 billion annually.
The $75 billion is provided by those who pay income taxes in the U.S.
Here are a few highlights taken verbatim from Fong’s report:
*In the last 5 years, we have completed 779 SNAP investigations that have resulted in 1,356 indictments, 944 convictions, and 792 sanctions against individuals and businesses.1 During that time, our monetary results have totaled more than $186 million.2
*However, in a recent audit, we determined that FNS did not debar any of the 615 wholesalers and retailers convicted in relation to 208 OIG cases, even though a conviction is adequate grounds for debarment.
*Our analysis of the databases that States check as part of their role in ensuring recipient eligibility revealed that a total of 8,594 recipients in the 5 States were receiving potential improper payments. Some of these recipients were using the social security numbers of deceased individuals, or otherwise invalid social security numbers, while others were receiving benefits in more than one State. In total, we estimate that these recipients could be receiving about $1.1 million a month.
CNS News said about 46.3 million people would get food stamps from October, 2011-September, 2012.
That number, said CNS, “is a substantial increase from the 30.8 million beneficiaries at the beginning of FY 2009.”
The North Carolina group ‘Conservatives 4 Guilford County’ created a video featuring a member testifying before her local council. She noted that a local state official called food stamps “an industry.”
Democrats relaxed requirements for food stamps in 2008, with majority control of both the Senate and the House.
The debit card model of course invites fraud.
The figures Fong cited are those we know about. There's really no way to determine full levels of fraud in any federal entitlement program.
(Filed by Kay B. Day/March 9, 2012)