MDHHS Office of Inspector General receives federal grant to help prevent fraud in food assistance program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 23, 2019                                                

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Office of Inspector General received a $738,000 federal grant to improve its efforts to prevent food assistance benefits fraud.

The grant from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is to assist in implementing parts of the USDA-FNS Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Fraud Framework.

The Framework is a collection of recently formulated procedures and best practices designed to improve efforts by state agencies to more effectively detect, investigate and prevent SNAP fraud. SNAP is known as the Food Assistance Program in Michigan.

The Food Assistance Program provides a vital lifeline to Michigan families who struggle to afford groceries. MDHHS is committed to ensuring that eligible families can access the program. Program integrity efforts complement this goal by confirming the proper application of program rules.

Through its efforts to enforce Food Assistance Program integrity, the Office of Inspector General investigated 8,576 food assistance fraud/trafficking cases in fiscal year 2018, with 3,797 fraud investigative dispositions for a fiscal year total of more than $9 million. While these efforts play a key role in program implementation, it is important to keep in mind that SNAP has a very low rate of improper payment; the dispositions in fiscal year 2018 reflect 0.3 percent of the individuals receiving SNAP in Michigan.

The USDA-FNS grant is a continuation of efforts to provide states with flexibility to improve program integrity. With this grant the Office of Inspector General will secure new data sources and acquire advanced analytics capabilities such as machine learning and link analysis for use in the fraud identification process.

To share a tip with the Office of Inspector General, call 800-222-8558.

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