Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Two Amendments Approved for the Quest® Operating Rules

On March 12, 2014, the NACHA Board of Directors and on April 11, 2014, the Quest Registered State Representatives approved two amendments to the Quest Operating Rules.

The Quest rules are the network operating rules that govern how EBT transactions are to be acquired and settled within the existing commercial payment infrastructure. 

The new rules are:

1.       A housekeeping amendment to remain consistent with name of the Federal Food Stamp Program.
2.       An amendment to restrict cash access at certain locations to comply with federal law.

The Quest Operating Rules will be updated to reflect these amendments within a week and will be posted to the Quest website.  For details on the amendments please visit the Quest Operating Rules website at https://www.nacha.org/s/quest/index.html.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Notice of Proposed Rule Making for Tanf Funds

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, State Reporting on Policies and Practices to Prevent Use of TANF Funds in Electronic Benefit Transfer Transactions in Specified Locations to the financial reports that states submit quarterly on their Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant and maintenance-of-effort (MOE) spending, was published in the Federal Register today, February 6, 2014.  State and local TANF agencies, and other interested parties are invited to submit comments by May 5, 2014.  The NPRM is available here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-02-06/pdf/2014-02488.pdf.

Additionally, the Office of Family Assistance invites you to join us for a Webinar, The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program, State Reporting on Policies and Practices to Prevent Use of TANF Funds in Electronic Benefit Transfer Transactions on Thursday, February 13, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Eastern. The purpose of this Webinar is to provide the listeners with a summary of the NPRM and the comment process. 

The Webinar is scheduled to last approximately 60 minutes. We ask that all participants register no later than Wednesday, February 12, 2014 through the Webinar registration site located at:https://icfconsulting.adobeconnect.com/e2xbq5hp8vi/event/registration.html.
We look forward to your participation on Thursday, February 13, 2014. Should you have any questions about Webinar registration, please contact Allen Bediako at allen.bediako@icfi.com.

Thank you!

Lisa M. Washington-Thomas
Branch Chief, TANF Technical Assistance
OFA/DSTTM - 5th Floor East
370 L'Enfant Promenade, SW
Washington, DC. 20447
Phone: (202) 401-5141 - Blackberry:  (202) 815-2373
Fax: (202) 205-5887

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A workgroup from within the eGPC Rules and Practices Caucus has been working on an update of the Quest Operating Rules for electronic benefits transfer systems.

The Quest rules are network rules that govern how closed-loop EBT systems function on open loop financial networks.

The purpose of the update is to bring the Rules into conformity with some of the changes that have taken place in EBT practice over the last several years.

A copy of the draft is posted on the EFTA website. You can access it by clicking here

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Photo IDs for SNAP Shoppers?

SNAP beneficiaries will be carrying photo ID EBT cards if a bill introduced last week in the Senate ever sees the light of day.

The bill, introduced by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), would require the issuance of photo IDs to all participants in the SNAP program.

In a press release, Vitter stated that the bill’s goal is “to restore some accountability to the program so it’s not ruined for people who use it appropriately.”

According to a press release issued by Vitter’s office, a system outage last fall that led some beneficiaries to purchase huge quantities of merchandise in dollar amounts clearly beyond their SNAP spending limits was a motivating factor for the bill. Reports at the time included some people simply walking out of stores with full carts during the confusion.

“My bill will restore some accountability to the program so it's not ruined for people who use it appropriately,” stated Vitter in the release.

A requirement to provide photo ID would verify that a person is the legal beneficiary of the EBT card, according to the bill.

Anyone caught attempting to illegally use another recipient's EBT card would be banned from the program.

Vitter recently announced his candidacy for Louisiana governor in 2015.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Rooting Out EBT Fraud Is More Complex Than It Seems

Like most things in DC these days, the case of misuse of EBT and government-sponsored EBT cards is becoming politicized. Those on the right want more prohibitions enshrined in law, tougher enforcement and penalties. Those on the left take the cost-benefit approach and say additional enforcement isn't justified by the relatively small amount of money that would be saved from diversion to misuse.

Kevin Miller of the Maine Morning Sentinel had a nice piece out on January 12 laying out the problems and issues in enforcing Congress' February 2012 law prohibiting the use of Tanf benefits in casinos, liquor stores and adult entertainment venues.

You can click here to read the Miller article. I urge you to read it.

Mr. Miller takes a deep dive into the issues facing state agencies who are trying to comply with the federal law, as well as the myriad of state laws that the federal law from Washington has spawned.

We're pleased that Mr. Miller's well-researched article relied in good measure on the work of the eGovernment Payments Council. Most notably, he bases the article on an interview with eGPC, our  White Paper Restricting Access to Tanf Funds at Specific Merchant Locations, and our followup Spring 2013 Survey of state agencies.