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2:14 PM

EBT-The Perfect Public-Private Partnership

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EBT-The Perfect Public-Private Partnership

I recently had the opportunity to attend the semi-annual meeting of the eGovernment Payments Council in Washington.

Among the Council’s work at the meeting were the following tasks.

1 A review by several government-relations analysts of legislative and regulatory issues facing EBT payment systems.
2 A deep dive into the current federal farm bill which includes language for modernizing EBT through technology like mobile commerce and online shopping.
3 The Council also received a report from its own task force proposing long-term strategies for EBT.
4 Also reporting in was a Council work group of state agencies that process both SNAP and TANF transactions through EBT systems.
5 Another internal Council group is advising EBT stakeholders on mobile technology and EBT.
6 The Council’s agenda also included an update on EBT processing rules and specifications.

EBT has been driven by three main engines, the desire to reduce the opportunity for fraud in lifeline assistance programs and a desire to reduce the cost of delivering these benefits, and a desire to make the delivery of these benefits a simpler, more humane process for food retailers and their customers, the beneficiaries of these programs.

The Council, which I am proud to have co-founded some 25 years ago, is comprised of representatives of private-sector organizations, state government agencies that use electronic-benefits transfer to dispense payments to eligible beneficiaries, and employees of the Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service. FNS administers two of the largest users of EBT technology, the SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamps Program) nutrition program and the Women, Infants and Children (also known as WIC) nutrition program.

I was proud to see that agencies from 20 states  and territories have joined the group. I will be even prouder when the other 30 states, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico join their EBT colleagues from around the table.

Private sector Council participants include all EBT transaction processors, equipment manufacturers, leading EBT consultants, software developers and card manufacturers among other industry segments.

All Council members are united behind the three engines of EBT. This makes EBT one of the most successful public-private partnerships