INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Federal officials said Thursday that Indiana will be rewarded for having fewer errors in its food stamp program a year after the state was fined for making too many mistakes, including underpaying some food stamp recipients and overpaying others.
Indiana was among the most improved states from fiscal year 2009 to 2010, bringing its payment error rate down to 2.6 percent of cases in 2010 from 7.1 percent the year before, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers food stamps.
Indiana officials chalked up the improvement to a new system implemented after the state canceled a welfare processing agreement with an outside contractor it blamed for the 2009 errors.
USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon said Indiana will receive a $1.6 million bonus from the agency because of its improvement.
"Indiana is certainly headed in the right direction," he said.
The USDA cited Texas and Illinois as the two other states making the biggest improvements from 2009 to 2010. Florida was praised as having the most accurate food stamp payments, with errors in less than 1 percent of cases.
Indiana had blamed its poor food stamp payment performance in 2009 on IBM Corp., which Gov. Mitch Daniels fired that year after problems with a new automated welfare application and processing system. IBM and the state have sued each other over the governor's decision to end the contract.
The state Family and Social Services Administration is now moving to what it calls a hybrid welfare intake system, combining some aspects of the automated system with more face-to-face contact with those applying for food stamps and other benefits.
Indiana Division of Family Resources Deputy Director Rich Adams says the hybrid system has helped lower the state's error rate. He thanked local office workers who he said went "above and beyond" to help the state improve.