For Immediate Release - May 23, 2013

DTA Releases Mid-Term Status Update for 'Bridge to Stability' Action Plan

Nearly ten major program enhancements launched and over a dozen listening sessions complete, with more underway

BOSTON — Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) Interim Commissioner Stacey Monahan today released a mid-term status update on program integrity enhancements as part of DTA’s ‘Bridge to Stability’ action plan to enhance client services and protect benefits for those who truly need them.

“We’ve implemented nearly ten major program integrity enhancements, with more to come” said Interim Commissioner Monahan. “We’re doing new data matches to ensure only those eligible for benefits are receiving them, which will ensure that taxpayer resources are used appropriately and as intended. Meanwhile, we’ve held over a dozen listening sessions and made operational enhancements to improve client service. We have more work to do, but I’m pleased with our progress.”

DTA’s 100 day plan pdf format of    Bridge to Stability Action Plan: First 100 Days  docx format of Bridge to Stability Action Plan: First 100 Days incorporates operational and technological enhancements to address specific issues raised by the offices of the inspector general, state auditor and federal regulators. The plan balances program integrity enhancements with improved client services.

“The progress Commissioner Monahan has made with this plan is a step in the right direction, toward real and sustainable change. I have seen first-hand the success of some of these changes,” said Stephen M. Brewer (D-Barre). “We have acknowledged that we need to take action here and this plan, in conjunction with the Senate President’s commitment to reform, will heighten the integrity of the way people receive benefits.”

“Follow-up reports often disappoint. This one doesn’t,” said State Sen. Mike Barrett (D-Lexington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. “Work is getting done, hard numbers are getting collected, loopholes appear to be closing. There’s real hope the program can retain credibility."

“I am pleased that the Department of Transitional Assistance is looking to deliver the most efficient and cost-effective services to only those who need them most and I look forward to working with the Administration as the enhanced client services and benefit protections are implemented,” said Representative Kay Khan, House Chair, Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.

Bridge to Stability Mid-Term Status Update

Phase I – Program Integrity Enhancements

EnhancementsInitiative DescriptionsStatus
ATM / POS Transaction MonitoringDTA launched bi-weekly monitoring of ATM and POS withdrawals to identify purchases made at prohibited establishments; notifying retailers and law enforcement of potential violations.Implemented – DTA has reviewed 630,000 transactions in 14,000 unique locations and has personally reviewed nearly 600 stores. Database being constructed with information obtained, with more results to be shared in future.
Implement $5 fee for replacement EBT cardsDTA implemented $5 fee for replacements EBT cards for both SNAP and cash assistance clients.Implemented – DTA has collected more than $22,000 through March as a result of fee.
Notice and monitor clients who request multiple EBT card replacementsDTA instituted new notice and review process that requires clients who have received three or more EBT replacement cards to meet with office director.Implemented – Combined with $5 fee, DTA has seen a 62% drop in requests for additional replacement cards following third replacement.
Absent Non-Custodial Parent VerificationDTA has increased file examination that will help identify non-custodial parents in the household. Information also being shared with DOR, which can result in increased child support collection.Implemented – DTA identifying cases where non-custodial parents living in home while client says otherwise. This can result in investigation and overpayment recoupment for taxpayers.
Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education MatchDTA now verifying statewide school attendance via new electronic data match, addressing issue raised in inspector general’s report.Implemented – New match helping DTA verify residency and school attendance requirements, while reducing paperwork for clients and caseworkers.
Residency and Address VerificationCaseworkers increased address verification controls. DTA revised landlord verification and shared housing forms to require clients to sign “under penalty of perjury.”Implemented – Enhances residency and address verifications measures when client addresses are reported or change.
Social Security Number Verification EnhancementsDTA enhanced verification of names, date of birth and gender of clients who have a systems generated number, through the SSA and EVS verification process for updated SSNs.Implemented – Improves accuracy and integrity of social security verification process.
Department of Correction MatchDTA launched new weekly match with Massachusetts Dept. of Correction to supplement existing federal quarterly match.Implemented – New process will eliminate any lag time between incarceration and closure of benefits.
Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) Warrant MatchDTA match now conducted on monthly, as opposed to quarterly basis, with automated notices being sent to the recipient.Implemented – Will insure match is conducted more frequently and efficiently so no cash assistance recipient with outstanding warrant will receive benefits.
Income VerificationDTA launched pilot front-end income verification through Equifax national database. Pilot to significantly increase timeliness of employment information available, while reducing reliance on “pay and chase” system.Pilot implemented – Implementation will improve efficiencies, and act as deterrent to fraudulent activities.
Dept. of Revenue MatchNew match will make employment information available at the time of application, and expands data received by DTA to include self-employment income, rental income, and alimony.In process – Pilot to be completed in July.
Registry of Motor Vehicles MatchNew match will allow DTA to verify all vehicles owned by the applicant to eliminate reliance on client self-disclosures, while also cross-checking license photos.In process – To be completed in July.

Phase II – Long-Term and On-Going Initiatives

EnhancementsInitiative DescriptionsStatus
External AuditDTA hired Ernst & Young to perform independent audit and recommend further improvements and processing efficiencies in program integrity, administration and finance, and field operations.To be completed in June.
Bridge to Stability Listening TourDTA Interim Commissioner Monahan launched state-wide listening tour to allow residents all across the Commonwealth to share ideas, provide feedback and suggestions on how the Department can improve.On-going – DTA has held 16 sessions with over 400 public attendees, 20 members of the Legislature and more than 100 comments submitted. More events are scheduled throughout June.
Process ImprovementsDTA implementing process enhancements to improve timeliness of processing new benefit applications and re-certifications. Will also find technological solutions to improve service delivery and reduce client wait times.On-going.
Program Integrity Unit Staff AdditionsDTA’s program integrity unit has been increasing its staff to carry out the aggressive matches and enhancements detailed in this plan.In process – Ten new investigators are set to be added this calendar year.

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