The ultimate in positive reinforcment or a little ‘pork’ in the Farm Bill?

June 29, 2008

Am I crazy or is Ag Secretary Ed Schafer rewarding states with $30 million (taxpayer) dollars for actually doing their job?

The Story:

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer today announced that USDA will award $30 million to states for demonstrating excellence in administering Food Stamp Program benefits in Fiscal Year (FY) 2007. Among those states, South Dakota and Nebraska have exceptional records, winning high performance bonuses every year since 2003, the first year that the high performance awards were authorized. The overall national payment accuracy rate for FY 2007 was 94.36 percent, an historic high for the program.

“USDA commends our state partners for their diligence in maintaining program integritywhile increasing access and participation in the Food Stamp Program,” said Schafer. “One of our top priorities is to ensure that America’s most vulnerable residents have access to a healthful diet.”

As authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, each year USDA awards $24 million among the seven states with the best payment accuracy rates and the three states with the most improved payment accuracy rates. The payment accuracy rate measures overpayments and underpayments to food stamp recipients. The states with the best payment accuracy rates in FY 2007 were South Dakota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Washington. The most improved states were Florida, Arizona and Kansas.

USDA will award an additional $6 million among the four states with the lowest negative error rates and the two states with the most improved negative error rates. The negative error rate measures improper denials or termination of food stamp benefits. The states with the lowest negative rate in FY 2007 were Nebraska, which had a zero negative error rate for the second consecutive year, South Dakota, Alabama and Minnesota. The most improved states were Oregon and Kansas.

The states below will receive the following awards:

Best payment accuracy rates:

South Dakota $312,145
Nebraska $544,319
North Carolina $3,451,068
Missouri $2,682,498
Mississippi $1,632,119
Pennsylvania $4,644,234
Washington $2,436,247

Most improved payment accuracy rates:

Florida $5,481,910
Arizona $2,005,164
Kansas $810,296

Best negative error rates:

Nebraska $479,050
South Dakota $280,981
Alabama $1,715,161
Minnesota $1,063,350

Most improved negative error rates:

Oregon $1,755,504
Kansas $705,954

Those are some pretty big ‘bonuses!’
(No mention of what that money can or will be used for.)

http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2008/06/0172.xml

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