Auditor faults management of Hawaii's EBT program

The Hawaii state auditor has found ineffective case management tools, a lack of inventory controls and other management-related problems with the electronic benefits transfer program operated by the state's Human Services Department.

Hawaii has been using an EBT card system to administer food stamps since 1998. The EBT system creates accounts for participants, checks with federal systems to verify that retailers are authorized to participate in the food stamp program, transfers funds between state and federal agencies, and pays the retailers.

The state's food stamp program error rate of 6.53 percent exceeds the federally acceptable rate of 5.9 percent, and thus federal law requires the department to instigate a corrective plan to lower that rate.

The excessive error rate has also deprived Hawaii of up to $1.8 million in enhanced federal funding for the food stamp program, according to the audit report.

The report (PDF) by state auditor Marion M. Higa recommends that the Human Services Department:

  • Hold managers accountable for complying with review recommendations

  • Develop follow-up procedures for quality assurance programs

  • Check for appropriate access controls on EBT cards

  • Improve its monitoring of the EBT contractor, Citicorp of New York.

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