U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Food Stamp Program - An Assessment of Fraud Vulnerability and Corrective Recommendations

NCJ Number
Date Published
256 pages
In response to a series of arrests for food stamp fraud in 1978, an investigating team reviewed vulnerability to fraud throughout New York City's programs and developed a corrective action plan.
Beginning in early 1979, the project staff observed food stamp program operations, reviewed and tested procedures, examined sample forms, and interviewed responsible officials. Their report opens with a history of the food stamp program and then describes its administration, costs, and clients in New York City. Cases of documented food stamp fraud are presented to illustrate weaknesses in the program's operations and the large amounts of money that are lost through abuse. The food stamp application and eligibility process for persons outside the public assistance system and for recipients of public assistance is described. An Authorization to Participate (ATP) is the critical document that allows individuals to obtain food stamps and is mailed to an eligible recipient on a monthly basis or can be issued directly by the Manual Disbursement Unit. A comprehensive evaluation of the ATP process and the documents themselves revealed several areas which were highly vulnerable to fraud. The review also uncovered problems in the recertification process and hearing procedures which allow clients to appeal decisions concerning food stamp allotments. Computerized methods used to issue and control ATP's were a major concern of the investigation, although these systems were in a state of flux at the time. The discussion of the data processing systems emphasizes the inability to reconcile program accounts, largely due to bank delays in delivering cashed ATP's and poor security to prevent thefts of ATP's. Because the reconcilation difficulties have seriously hampered security management efforts, they are analyzed in a separate section. Other areas covered in the report include redemption practices followed by banks and stores, identification cards, and Federal regulations which hamper efforts to protect the integrity of the food stamp program. Alternative systems for distributing food stamps in Michigan, New Hampshire, and Florida are reviewed. A summary of the study's findings and recommendations is provided, along with examples of food stamp documents, a list of application forms, guidelines used to issue stamps to public assistance recipients, data on fair hearing cases, and suggested revisions for contracts and reconcilation reports. Footnotes are included.


No download available