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Introduction
The Cashless System Commission was established pursuant to Section 5 of Chapter 161 of the Acts of 2012 which states there shall be an independent commission to study and report on the development of a cashless payment system in using electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, cards. The commission shall consist of: the commissioner of transitional assistance, or a designee, who shall serve as chair; the inspector general, or a designee; the state auditor, or a designee; 2 members of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; 2 members of the senate, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the minority leader; and 2 persons representing eligible recipients to be appointed by the governor. 

The commission shall research, assess and develop recommendations to implement a cashless payment system and investigate and report on the feasibility of expanding the direct vendor payment system: (i) under [direct vendor payments section]; and (ii) for rent and utility payments for all eligible recipients. The commission shall hire an independent consultant to conduct the research and assist with the preparation of any recommendations. The report shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (1) the costs associated with and any technological improvements necessary to implement and the time frame required for the expansion; (2) the implementation of a vendor payment system for the non-cash payment of rent and utility bills for all eligible recipients of direct cash assistance; and (3) the feasibility of placing fluctuating limitations on the percentage allocated to direct cash assistance and point of sale use. The commission shall submit a final report of its findings and recommendations, together with drafts of legislation necessary to implement those recommendations, by filing the same with the clerks of the senate and house on or before December 31, 2012.

Commission Member List (Word) doc format of csc-members list

Procurement Documents
Electronic Benefit Transfer Services - Request for Proposal (RFP) -122003 doc format of EBT Services - Request for Proposal 122003 (Word)
file size 3MB  
Original Contract - 122004 pdf format of Original Contract 122004 (PDF)
doc format of Original Contract 122004 (Word)
2nd Contract Amendment - 092008 pdf format of 2nd Contract Amendment 092008 (PDF)
doc format of 2nd Contract Amendent 092008 (Word) file size 6MB  
3rd Contract Amendment - 082010 pdf format of 3rd Contract Amendment 082010 (PDF)
doc format of 3rd Contract Amendment 082010 (Word) file size 2MB
4th Contract Amendment - 012011 pdf format of 4th Contract Amendment 012011 (PDF)
doc format of 4th Contract Amendment 012011 (Word) file size 1MB  
5th Contract Amendment - 102011 pdf format of 5th Contract Amendment 102011 (PDF)
file size 1MB doc format of 5th Contract Amendment 102011 (Word) file size 9MB

Cashless System Commission Meetings
These meetings are open to the public. Please look for future meeting dates in Open Meeting Notices posted on the DTA website.

Cashless System Commission Member Questions 
Questions from Representative Shaunna O’Connell - (11/18/12)

1. How many recipients currently in the system have been on assistance more than 2 years?
2. How many recipients have been evicted or received eviction notices in the past 2 years?
3. How many recipients have no other reported income?
4. How many recipients get other forms of assistance beside EBT cash?
5. How many recipients use EBT cash to pay (a) total rent (b) partial rent?
6. How many recipients do not have an identifiable landlord; for example, say they just pay a relative to stay at their home?
7. What household and/or other bills are recipients paying with EBT cash?
8. How many employees vs. clients are being interviewed at various DTA offices?
9. Are you interviewing the local Emergency Task Force programs, Community Action Programs and Citizens For Citizens employees to find out how many recipients are coming to them for help with nonpayment of rent and utilities?
10. Please provide commission members a list of all information that has been requested by Ripples Group as well as all of the information that has actually been provided, including question and answer surveys.
11. Commission members should be copied on correspondence between DTA and Ripples Group.
12. How many people on EBT also receive childcare subsidies/assistance?
13. Do/could utility companies accept EBT cards?
14. Please provide the number of recipients who receive (a) less than $100 in monthly benefits (b) between $101 and $300 in monthly benefits (c) between $301 and $500 (d) more than $500.
 

Cashless Commission Inquiry Response
The following questions from Rep. Shaunna O’Connell were forwarded to us by DTA as part of our research into options for the state to comply with Section 5, Chapter 161 of the Acts of 2012. We have done our best to collect the information and/or comply with the requests. (11/29/2012) 

Q2: How many recipients have been evicted or received eviction notices in the past 2 years?
- 1 of 14 survey respondents on cash assistance reported being evicted or receiving an eviction notice in the past two years.

Q5: How many recipients use EBT cash to pay (a) total rent (b) partial rent?
- 30 of 46 survey respondents on cash assistance reported using benefits towards rent
- 7 of 46 survey respondents on cash assistance reported using benefits towards rent and also receiving a housing subsidy

Q6: How many recipients do not have an identified landlord; for example, say they just pay a relative to stay at their home?
- This was not included as a specific survey question.

Q7: What household and/or other bills are recipients paying with EBT cash?
- Survey respondents reported that cash assistance was contributing to payment for toiletries, clothing, transportation, utilities, housing, food, school-related expenses, health-related expenses, childcare, and other costs such as phones, toys, and Christmas.

Q8: How many employees versus clients are being interviewed at various DTA offices?
- 61 client surveys and interviews (including focus group)
- 1 TAO director and 2 case worker interviews

Q9: Are you interviewing the local Emergency Task Force programs, Community Action Programs and Citizens for Citizens employees to find out how many recipients are coming to them for help with nonpayment of rent and utilities?
- This has not been included in the scope of our work with the Commission.

Q10. Please provide commission members a list of all information that has been requested by Ripples Group as well as all information that has actually been provided, including question and answer surveys.
- All data requests and interview questions asked by The Ripples Group is in the attached document.

Q11: Commission members should be copied on correspondence between DTA and Ripples Group.
- We are awaiting further instruction on how best to comply with this request.

Q13: Do/could utility companies accept EBT cards?
- From our survey interviews with clients, we have heard that utilities require cash payment and do not accept EBT cards.
- It is technically feasible for utility companies to accept an EBT payment.
Atilla Habip
November 28, 2012 

Questions submitted by Joshua Giles (12/11/12)
Q1. If the Online Payment system were optional, would that reduce the cost at all?
-TRG - Yes, DTA could offer an online option (separate from the Cashless option) as you suggest. This would be a good step forward.

Q2. Does DTA sanction clients when use at a banned establishment is found?  Does DTA actively look for such behavior?
DTA efforts to date have centered around informing and educating the clients and the retailers of the banned items and establishments. There are sanctions for clients when use at a banned establishment is found but they would only be enforced after a hearing takes place and a hearing officer would have to order it……….” Any eligible recipient of direct cash assistance who knowingly makes a prohibited purchase in violation of this section shall 
reimburse the department for such purchase and, for the second offense, shall be disqualified from the direct cash assistance program for a period of 2 months and, for the third offense, shall be disqualified from the direct cash assistance program permanently; provided, however, that the department shall only disqualify an eligible recipient after notice and a hearing pursuant to section 30A.”
There is not currently a report which identifies only purchases at banned establishments.

Q3. Does DTA partner with any banks for reduced ATM fees?
When issued an EBT card , clients are provided a brochure that outlines how to use the card to access benefits.  The brochure includes the following information regarding ATM surcharges:
“A surcharge is a service fee that you may be charged for making cash transactions with your EBT card at certain locations. Before you use your card, look for a notice telling you about possible surcharges on the ATM screen, or near the POS machine. There are many surcharge-free locations to access your cash benefits. By using surcharge-free locations you will maximize your cash benefits. Surcharges are in addition to the 85 cent fee charged for each ATM withdrawal over two in a calendar month.”

Q4. Can TAFDC/EAEDC funds be reallocated among clients if savings were to be found?  In other words if there were fraud savings identified, could the annual benefit be raised for clients?
Conceptually, fraud savings that reduce spending in the TAFDC and EAEDC accounts could be used to increase benefits for clients.  In practice, it would be challenging to reallocate actual savings in the same fiscal year.  The payment standards are set in the GAA each fiscal year, so the line item language would need to be amended to reflect the increased standards.  An estimate on the amount of savings would be required up front, so that the amount of the increases to the payment standards that can be afforded at the same spending level could be calculated.  

Q5. Can cash-back be limited at POS?
Not through IT technology, unfortunately. So it requires compliance by the retailer, through cashier training etc.  It will never be perfect, as indicated by Walmart and the MA Retailer Association. In addition to being costly, such compliance could be a real problem for small retailers as it creates a conflict between the customer and the sales person. The Retailer Association suggested that this could lead to a shrinking of the EBT network (exactly when we need to grow it).

Questions submitted by Senator Flanagan and Representative Reinstein 12/4/12
Q1. For Ripples, what is the cost per case increase of each of the various options on the table?
- A1. Last week’s presentation had total cost per option so per case is simply dividing that by $77K. However, we are updating some costs so it is better to use the next set of numbers. 
We’ll provide these in our draft report soon.  – The Ripples Group

Q2. For DTA staff, can we see the previous procurement contract? How much has it changed since it’s been signed? How much did the changes cost?
- A2. Attached are copies of the ACS/Xerox contract, the RFP and all related amendments to date in response to # 2 below.
Additional costs incurred since the initial contract are:
1) Development/implementation of an EBT disaster system - $175,000 & $25,000 for 100,000 pre-numbered/pre-pinned disaster cards; and
2) System modifications and operations for the Healthy Incentive Pilot (HIP) project - $920,220 (amendment 4).
Amendments #2 and #3 resulted in reduced cost per case month (CPCM) pricing for both cash and SNAP. – DTA Staff

Q3. For Ripples, why is WIC separate from EBT?
- A3. We think you mean why WIC and SNAP/cash assistance operate separately. There are many reasons for that. Primarily:
1) WIC is trying to position itself as a nutrition-oriented program and close association with SNAP hurts that.
2) WIC in MA still operates with food checks, no EBT. But even long term, the technology needed for WIC is different from SNAP as federal rules dictate that WIC must test purchases at UPC and client levels – that is, this client eligible for this product? (SNAP does not have to do that and it would be a huge expense to go there as our Option 1 argues). – The Ripples Group

Procurement Documents
Electronic Benefit Transfer Services - Request for Proposal (RFP) -122003 doc format of EBT Services - Request for Proposal 122003 (Word)
file size 3MB  
Original Contract - 122004 pdf format of Original Contract 122004 (PDF)
doc format of Original Contract 122004 (Word)
2nd Contract Amendment - 092008 pdf format of 2nd Contract Amendment 092008 (PDF)
doc format of 2nd Contract Amendent 092008 (Word) file size 6MB  
3rd Contract Amendment - 082010 pdf format of 3rd Contract Amendment 082010 (PDF)
doc format of 3rd Contract Amendment 082010 (Word) file size 2MB
4th Contract Amendment - 012011 pdf format of 4th Contract Amendment 012011 (PDF)
doc format of 4th Contract Amendment 012011 (Word) file size 1MB  
5th Contract Amendment - 102011 pdf format of 5th Contract Amendment 102011 (PDF)
file size 1MB doc format of 5th Contract Amendment 102011 (Word) file size 9MB

October 16, 2012
1:00-2:30 P.M.
One Ashburton Place, 11th Floor, Matta Conference Room, Boston, MA
 
October 18, 2012
10:00-11:30 A.M.
One Ashburton Place, 21st Floor Conference Room, Boston, MA
 
October 30, 2012 (Rescheduled to November 1, 2012)
1:00 – 2:30 P.M.
One Ashburton Place, 11th Floor, Matta Conference Room, Boston, MA
 
November 15, 2012
10:30 – 12:00 P.M.
One Ashburton Place, 11th Floor, Matta Conference Room, Boston, MA
 
 November 29, 2012
10:30 – 1:30 P.M.
One Ashburton Place, 11th Floor, Matta Conference Room, Boston, MA

    

December 11, 2012
1:00 - 3:30 P.M.
One Ashburton Place, 11th Floor, Matta Conference Room, Boston, MA
December 20, 2012
10:30 - 2:00 P.M.
One Ashburton Place, 11th Floor, Matta Conference Room, Boston, MA

 

 

 

This information is provided by the Department of Transitional Assistance.