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Apr 8 -- The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA, invites public comments by June 7, 2024 regarding the proposed data collections for SNAP demonstration projects and the SNAP State Options Report, respectively.

Demonstration projects are pilot or experimental projects that waive requirements of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) (7 U.S.C. 2011, et seq.) and SNAP regulations to test program changes to increase efficiency and improve the delivery of benefits to eligible households. Section 17(b) of the Act authorizes the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to approve demonstration projects. SNAP State agencies must request approval to operate demonstration projects and submit data reports to evaluate its impact. FNS may approve demonstration projects for a maximum five-year term and the projects must maintain cost neutrality and include an evaluation component. The SNAP State Options Report summarizes each State agency's policy choices concerning approximately 20 SNAP policy options and waivers. FNS produces the report on an annual basis and posts it on its public website.

This information collection concerns activities associated with both SNAP demonstration projects and the SNAP State Options Report. Demonstration projects allow State agencies to conduct approved pilot or experimental projects that waive requirements of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) (7 U.S.C. 2011, et seq.) and SNAP regulations to test program changes to improve program administration, increase the self-sufficiency of SNAP recipients, and improve the delivery of benefits to eligible households. The Act limits the provisions that the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) may waive. FNS may approve demonstration projects for a maximum five-year term, and they must maintain cost neutrality and include an evaluation component. Previously, this information has been collected without an OMB control number. This information collection seeks to come into compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act for demonstration projects.

The SNAP State Options Report summarizes each State agency's policy choices concerning approximately 20 SNAP policy options and waivers. FNS produces the report on an annual basis and posts it on its public website. The most recent report, released in October 2023, is available via the following link: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/waivers/state-options-report. The report is designed for a wide range of audiences. Audiences include SNAP State agencies, State and federal policymakers, other social service programs, advocacy groups, and researchers. FNS currently develops the report using extant data maintained by FNS and information provided by State agencies through their State SNAP Plans of Operation. FNS seeks to improve the report through expanding the information included to better serve interested audiences. To do so, a limited amount of new information from State agencies needs to be collected. FNS seeks to account for the new burden these activities would place on State agencies through this information collection. Previously, this information has been collected without an OMB control number. This information collection seeks to come into compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act for the State Options Report.

Demonstration projects test novel ideas and program innovations. State agencies undergo a research phase to determine the type of demonstration project they would like to implement. FNS works to guide and assist State agencies in researching and providing technical assistance prior to any submission of a request.

State agencies must submit data reports to FNS to assess the project's overall performance. The evaluation section of the demonstration project's approval detail the data report requirements. The evaluation section of the approval may include, but is not limited to, selecting a case sample, conducting case reviews, and validating the findings.

Data reports vary for each type of demonstration project. The most common types of reports are annual and cost-neutrality reports. Annual reports allow FNS to monitor demonstration project trends such as average caseload size, demographics data of the population in the demonstration (e.g., older adults and people with disabilities), timeliness, and payment error rates. Cost neutrality reports ensure that the implementation of a demonstration project does not significantly increase SNAP benefit costs. FNS must analyze program costs associated with demonstration projects to determine if any offsets are needed to protect Federal spending and maintain cost neutrality.

Regarding the SNAP State Options Report, FNS plans to pose a set of no more than 30 specific questions to State agencies concerning their State's implementation of various existing SNAP policy options. The questions asked may change each year as new policies and options are introduced or discontinued. In turn, State agencies would respond to FNS's set of questions with answers via an online form. FNS would solicit a response to the set of questions from each State agency once every 12-month period.

Innovation and Evaluation in SNAP Demonstration Projects: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/memo-introducing-innovation-and-evaluation-demonstrations
State Options Reports: https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/waivers/state-options-report
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2024-07377

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