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Dec 26 -- The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) invites comments to OMB by January 26, 2024 regarding the proposed Assessment of Mobile Technologies for Using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Benefits. [Comments due 30 days after submittal to OMB on December 27.]

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly benefits to low-income households to reduce food insecurity and improve health and well-being. Benefits are delivered via electronic benefit transfer (EBT), which is accepted at more than 250,000 authorized retailers nationwide. For nearly two decades, SNAP participants have used EBT in person at retailers, where they swipe their card at checkout using a point of sale (POS) terminal and enter their personal identification number (PIN) to pay for their purchases.

The Agricultural Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) authorized the use of mobile payments from devices like cell phones, tablets, and smart watches, as an alternate option to a physical electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card to conduct a SNAP transaction. This authorization was subject to the result of five mobile payment pilot projects. Mobile payments may improve the customer experience; save participant and retailer time; reduce potential stigma of using EBT; reduce costs; and prevent benefit fraud, loss, or theft.

The Mobile Payment Pilot Evaluation will assess the effects of the pilots, using information obtained from FNS, selected State SNAP agencies, retailers, and SNAP participants. The evaluation has four objectives: (1) assessing the implementation of the pilots, (2) examining the adoption and use of mobile technologies, (3) understanding implications for program integrity, and (4) assessing replicability and costs. In each of the five sites, the evaluation will conduct three rounds of semi-structured interviews with State SNAP agencies, EBT processors, retailers, and other partners. Interviews will occur during the pilot planning period and once the pilots are implemented, and will collect information about the pilot design and implementation.

This study will evaluate pilots in Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri and Oklahoma using information obtained from FNS, the five pilot State SNAP agencies, and a sample of retailers and SNAP participants to inform implementation, take-up and use of mobile technologies for redeeming SNAP benefits, implications for program integrity, and implementation costs and scalability.

Description of Respondents: State and Local Government, Individuals and Households, Businesses or other For- Profit and Not-for-Profit.
Number of Respondents: 33,746.

FNS has contracted with a vendor to conduct the evaluation. Information for the evaluation will be collected by using a mixed-methods approach with the following data collection components:

-- Document review of State SNAP agencies’ pilot planning and implementation documentation to contextualize pilots’ pre-implementation experiences. FNS will provide the documents to the contractor.

-- SNAP administrative data from pilot State SNAP agencies, combined with SNAP benefit redemption transaction data from FNS and publicly available data, will describe the adoption of mobile payment technologies and benefit redemption patterns by participant, retailer, and community characteristics (Appendix A1: Administrative Data Elements). Pilot State SNAP agencies will also provide implementation cost data (Appendix B1: Cost Data Worksheet) to measure what each State SNAP agency and its partners spent to implement and operate the pilot.

-- Key informant interviews among pilot State SNAP agencies, EBT processors, retailers, and other partners will collect information about pilot planning and implementation (Appendix C1, C2: Key Informant Interview Guides).

-- SNAP participant surveys and focus groups among SNAP participants in the pilot States who used mobile technology to redeem SNAP benefits and those who did not use the technology. The surveys and focus groups will assess awareness, usability, satisfaction, and interest in mobile payments (Appendix D1: Client Experience Survey; Appendix D2: Survey of Non-Adopters; Appendix E1: Focus Group Discussion Guide).

SNAP Mobile Payment Pilot: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/mobile-payment-pilot
FNS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202311-0584-003 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-28334

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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