Issue Brief

SNAP Trafficking Calculator: A Database Solution for Improving Program Integrity

SNAP Trafficking Calculator: A Database Solution for Improving Program Integrity
May, 2017
Zachary Miller, Madeleine Levin
Social Programs
Practice Areas
SNAP Integrity & Food Access
Mixed Method Evaluations
Technical Assistance

This brief describes IMPAQ’s recent work with the state of Tennessee to test and implement a new system to identify and investigate cases of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) trafficking. Trafficking SNAP benefits is fraud that threatens the integrity of an important safety net program. Trafficking and other fraud diverts hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars from their intended purpose of helping low-income individuals and families access a nutritious diet.

States administering SNAP face challenges in combatting trafficking. Constrained budgets and expanded caseloads have led states to develop new, efficient processes and tools to help maintain the integrity of their benefit programs.

In 2015 and 2016 IMPAQ partnered with the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) with support from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) SNAP Recipient Trafficking Prevention Grant. Together the partnership developed, tested, and implemented new processes for detecting SNAP recipients engaged in trafficking. The partnership created a database calculator tool to help investigate potential SNAP trafficking cases.

The tool enables a state agency to prioritize the most suspicious cases to investigate further. Investigators can compare different trafficking indicators through the user interface. An investigator uses the tool to calculate a total score for each case based on the presence and frequency of trafficking indicators and/or behaviors reflected in the data. Investigators can weigh indicators differently so that their investigations reflect the latest knowledge of the field and priorities of the state agency.