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1:42 PM

Front Page Focus: The Future of EBT

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Chaddsford Planning Associates once again chaired the Front Page Focus plenary session at the EBT Next Generation conference in Orlando.  The topic focused on the future of electronic benefits transfer (EBT) now that, 35 years after the first EBT demonstration project in Pennsylvania, all SNAP beneficiaries and nearly all participants in the WIC supplemental nutrition program receive their benefits via an EBT card.  Where do we go next?

Front Page Focus took a holistic look at EBT by discussing the addition of other government payments to the core state EBT platform. These partner programs might include managed healthcare, foster care payments, adoption services, and child support enforcement. Opening up the core EBT platform to such partner programs would make existing EBT programs more robust and more convenient for beneficiaries, who would be able to access multiple benefits from one source. Potential partners studied by the speakers included Medicaid, managed care organizations, healthcare providers as well as foster care agencies.

Participating in the session were Nancy Bucceri, Managing Partner of Chaddsford Planning Associates, who discussed the nexus between SNAP and managed care programs.  Also participating on the panel was Pat O’Donnell, Vice President of Payment Processing of YoungWilliams, and John Pfeuffer, Vice President of Business Development for Conduent State and Local Solutions, one of the largest EBT payment processors.

Bob Bucceri, General Partner of Chaddsford Planning Associates, arranged the session and served as moderator.  

The panel discussed the natural synergy between nutrition programs and healthcare payers seeking to manage chronic disease by addressing food insecurity that can put people at risk for hospitalization.  Combining foster care payments and SNAP on a single card can also reduce food insecurity and related health risks for children in the program. Speakers also looked at potential technical obstacles to adding foster care payments to an EBT card since they are currently dispensed on different card platforms. SNAP is dispensed via EBT cards and foster care by a debit card.

Mobile technology combined with enhanced data analytics can help fight fraud and system abuse.  While SNAP fraud accounts for only .9% of the total program expenditure, it jumped 61% from 2012 to 2016, costing taxpayers $592.7 million and bears watching.1

In addition to this lead-off discussion on the future of EBT, the conference featured sessions on USDA’s SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot, the client experience with EBT, technologies showcasing opportunities for mobile, challenges with cyber security and identity management, and data driven approaches to better serve participants.

Examining the future of EBT was a good way to kick off such a wide-ranging agenda that presented such a comprehensive picture of the current issues facing the EBT industry and opportunities for future growth. 

EBT-the Next Generation is a service of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association, which  relies on the ATM Industry Association for assistance managing the conference.

Over 400 people registered to attend this year's conference. 

For more information on who we are and what we do, visit us at www.chaddsfordplanning.com
1:12 PM

Chaddsford Planning Refreshes its Product Marketing Services

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The Lobster is heralding the rebirth of Chaddsford Planning Associates’ Product  Marketing practice under the direction of Principal Director Nancy Bucceri.

Initially, the practice will focus on providing advice on the marketing and sales of healthcare information technologies. This will be quickly followed by expanding services to the marketing of products in other industries.

You can read more information on Director Bucceri and her background on the home page of our site.

Director Bucceri has been invited to address the annual conference of the Electronic Government Payments Council on November 3, 2019 as part of a panel discussion on what’s next in EBT.    Her topic will focus on  the nexus between healthcare and the federal nutrition programs.
2:16 PM

Taking EBT Payment Technology to New Frontiers

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Now that the SNAP and WIC nutrition programs are finally rolled out using electronic benefits transfer technology as the benefit-delivery mechanism, the time has come to examine how else we can put this technology to use. The electronic payments industry, state and territorial governments, and the Department of Agriculture have made significant investments in infrastructure, manpower, and technology in order to develop EBT. The time has come to leverage this investment and find new ways to use this valuable technology. On Sunday, November 3,  Bob Bucceri will be leading a panel discussion he has organized on this topic. The session will be part of the annual EBT-the Next Generation conference. The conference venue is the Caribe Royale Orlando, 8101 World Center Drive. The session is scheduled for 12:30 pm on November 3. Participating in the discussion will be speakers with experience in EBT, government payments, healthcare, and business development.
10:54 AM

Re-regulating to help ensure that public benefits are used to move beneficiaries toward self-sufficiency

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this month proposed eliminating a loophole that allows states to make recipients of minimal amounts of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (welfare) benefits automatically eligible to participate in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps).

Regular readers of The Lobster are familiar with how these pages have documented the steps that USDA has taken to increase the integrity of the SNAP program, including the elimination of opportunities for fraud and abuse of the program.

The proposed rule published in the Federal Register would limit SNAP/TANF automatic eligibility to households that receive substantial, ongoing TANF-funded benefits aimed at helping families move towards self-sufficiency.

 This loophole has increased the number of SNAP recipients in some states by include people who receive unneeded assistance. In a news release trumpeting the regulatory revision, USDA calls the problem, which the rule change is intended to correct, egregious.

 The Department claims that billions of tax dollars are being squandered through this loophole. As an example, its release points to the case of a millionaire receiving benefits in Minnesota. In the eyes of the Department, the new regulation will allow government to deliver SNAP consistently to only to those most in need of the benefit.

The release cites Department Secretary Sonny Perdue in promoting the new regulation “For too long, this loophole has been used to effectively bypass important eligibility guidelines. Too often, states have misused this flexibility without restraint,”

Secretary Perdue added, “The American people expect their government to be fair, efficient, and to have integrity – just as they do in their own homes, businesses, and communities. That is why we are changing the rules, preventing abuse of a critical safety net system, so those who need food assistance the most are the only ones who receive it.”

1:56 PM

Creating Access to Capital for Low-income Consumers

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A number of years ago, a financial-industry colleague of mine and I devised a consumer-finance alternative to check-cashing services, payday loans, and rent-to-own stores.

The plan we developed was designed to provide a gateway to capital for consumers with limited assets and low income.

Our inverse principle was that everyone, no matter how poor, owns something of value. and the poorer the consumer the more valuable that thing is to him. And if that thing were used to collateralize a loan, the more likely the borrower would be to repay the loan.

What is needed is a forward-thinking financial institution willing to extend credit based on such collateral. Since the collateral, whether an old car, a personal assistant, or a mobile phone is the one thing that allows the consumer to tolerate his poverty, it would be highly unlikely that he will default on the small loan.

This will allow the borrower to escape the maw of check cashers, payday lenders and and others in the non-bank financial-service industry that provide capital to poorer consumers at an unbearable cost. Under this scenario, there is no vig, no hidden cost to the borrower.

The financial institution could be a bank, credit union, or even a check casher.
12:36 PM

The Department of Agriculture uses modern analytics to take down old fashion fraud

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The oldest form of fraud (thinking that no one is watching you) is being defeated by modern technology (data analytics) employed by the Department of Agriculture as it oversees the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) program.

In 2018,  the Food and Nutrition Service of the Department used data analytics to examine delivery route retailers to help confirm which ones were more likely to be skirting SNAP regulations. The G men focused on the authorization and reauthorization processes for the delivery route sellers most at risk of fraud.

In a statement, FNS points out that not all delivery route vendors, which are an important part of the delivery plan for SNAP benefits, violate the program regulations. FNS notes that  legitimate delivery route retailers serve many SNAP clients well. Delivery route venders provide a valuable service especially in rural areas.

In its statement, USDA states that it takes program integrity seriously. Brandon Lipps, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, says that when the government’s data analysis showed that some bad actors may have invaded the delivery route network, FNS immediately began acting to ferret them out of the program and secure the reauthorization process.

Acting Deputy Under Secretary Lipps says that FNS will continue its data analysis strategy to ensure that tax dollars supporting the SNAP program are wisely used and remain a central piece of USDA’s daily operations.

This page has commented frequently on FNS’s efforts to attack fraud that may have penetrated nutrition programs, like SNAP.

SNAP is the program formerly known at food stamps.
12:37 PM

EBT The Next Generation 2019 Agenda Is Taking Shape

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EBT The Next Generation  2019 Agenda Is Taking Shape

The agenda for EBT the Next Generation is almost baked. The conference will take place on November 3 - 5 in Orlando, Florida

Now in year 23 year, EBT-the Next Generation is the premier conference focused on the use of electronic payment technology to deliver government payments to consumers.

This year’s conference will include sessions on merging the use of EBT cards with online shopping technology, sessions devoted specifically to SNAP EBT and WIC EBT, processing and handling EBT data, retailer perspective on EBT, separate SNAP and WIC EBT roundtables, service support cost drivers, government payments beyond SNAP and WIC, state contracting for EBT processors, and program integrity issues.

NextGen routinely draws several hundred attendees, including state officials responsible for managing EBT on the state level, and the vendors and manufacturers who supply the electronic payment technology needed to drive EBT.

The conference is a service of the Electronic Funds Transfer Association.

1:49 PM

Reducing Recipient Fraud in the SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) Program

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The Federal Government Is Funding Implementation of an Effort to Reduce Recipient Fraud in the SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) Program

The Agriculture Department, which administers the SNAP Program, announced this month the availability of a grant program for states. The purpose of the grants is to fund participation in the SNAP Fraud Framework Implementation.

The grants will financially support states in their efforts to combat fraud initiated by recipients of SNAP benefits.

This combat includes fraud prevention, detection, and investigation using procedures, ideas, and practices outlined in the federal SNAP Fraud Framework.

Applicant states will be successful in applying for the grants if their applications include one or more of the procedures, ideas and practices specified in the federal framework.

The purpose of the program is to improve state response to recipient fraud in the SNAP program by using the 7 components that comprise the SNAP Fraud Framework.
11:11 AM

Adding value for SNAP shoppers

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Adding value for SNAP shoppers
Search the Internet for apps related to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP and formerly known as food stamps) and you are likely to find any number of them where as recently as five years ago you might have found none.

Some of these apps may give the impression that they are part of the SNAP program. Others are clear that their purpose is to add value to the shopping experience without giving any such impressions. One such app is Snap2Save, a mobile loyalty app vended by Colorado-based digital customer engagement developer Green Piranhas.

Green Piranhas has worked with food retailer Save-A-Lot to make Snap2Save usable at a number of Save-A-Lot store brands.

Since the inception of EBT technology in the 1980s, the typical EBT technology matrix has consisted of the federal Agriculture Department paying for the SNAP food purchased by eligible program beneficiaries and also providing technical guidance to the states as well as authorizing food retailers to participate in SNAP,  state agencies that administer the program on a state level and a technology company known as an EBT processor that accepts eligibility data from the state agency and manages the flow of EBT transactions that initiate at food retail companies that are authorized to sell SNAP food to SNAP customers. The authorized food retailers are the last part of the traditional EBT matrix.

Value-added apps outside of this matrix like Snap2Save add a new dimension to the delivery of SNAP benefits. These apps could be provided by the EBT processors or as in the case of Snap2Save by a third party operating outside of the traditional EBT matrix.

 Snap2Save enables users to earn and redeem loyalty points at participating Save-A-Lot food stores, through S2S’s Healthy Food Rewards program which encourages healthier food choices at the grocery store.

However, Snap2Save also enables users to do so much more, including checking their EBT balances, obtaining health and wellness incentives for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables, being able to view healthy recipe videos.

And Snap2Save allows users the chance to receive special offers and win prizes.

According to developer Green Piranhas, Snap2Save is the next generation of such apps because it combines digital loyalty with a health and wellness focus that allows consumers to both save money and live better.

Sam Jonas, CEO of Green Piranhas, says that Snap2Save’s Healthy Food Rewards, with its combination of financial incentives and emphasis on health and wellness, is the type of program that appeals to shoppers on a budget.

Snap2Save is available for both iOS and Android devices.

In the interest of full disclosure, Snap2Save is a client of Chaddsford Planning Associates.

1:15 PM

EBT community came together to meet early SNAP issuance demand, necessitate by the government shutdown

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 EBT community came together to meet early SNAP issuance demand, necessitate by the government shutdown 

The EBT community is a public-private partnership of government agencies and companies that design, develop, implement and operate the complex systems that deliver food nutritional assistance to eligible persons each month. This includes, among other things, identifying eligible recipients, issuing debit cards used to obtain food at authorized food retailers, keeping the system free of waste, fraud and abuse, containing costs, and issuing the eligible SNAP food, promulgating and observing federal regulations designed to allow the system to operate seamlessly.

The EBT community is comprised of the Food and Nutrition Service of the Agriculture Department, state agencies that administer the SNAP (formerly the Food Stamp Program) on a state level, the EBT transaction processors, vendors that provide some of the hardware and software required to build the state EBT systems, consultants who advise the state agencies and the companies and advocacy groups representing the interests of SNAP beneficiaries and food retailers authorized to issue SNAP benefits.

The government shutdown made it necessary to issue February SNAP benefits early, in order to reduce the amount of time that eligible families would be without the benefit.

Once the decision was made to allow early issuance, the EBT community quickly jumped into action, working seamlessly to get the food to those who needed it. Disparate groups worked as one and got the food to those who needed it.

The EBT community is represented by the eGovernment Payments Council, a service of the venerable Electronic Funds Transfer Association or EFTA. EFTA advocates for replacing paper processes in payments with electronic processes which are generally more secure and cost-efficient. Chaddsford Planning Associates was a founding member of the eGovernment Payments Council.

Council members who are employed by government agencies did not participate in any policy discussion regarding this issue or in any other discussion involving public policy.

11:03 AM

A Christmas Memory

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A Christmas Memory

The Lobster is taking a detour at this holiday season. Today I ask you to stop and help me commemorate the death of my uncle in World War II. Long-time readers of The Lobster will recall this post from its original run in December 2013.

Over 400,000 Americans were killed during World War II. Each one of them is a story to memorialize. This is my uncle's story which deserves to be repeated this Christmas season

Sgt. Edward H. Bucceri was a member of the 351st Bomb Group stationed at RAF Polebrook, England in World War II.  The base was 80 miles north of London. Ed died long before I was born. We know little about the incident that took his life other than it was his eighth combat mission and it occurred three days before Christmas. At this Christmas season in 2018 I again take time out to remember Ed’s life and death.


What information we have is preserved in The Chronicle of the 351st Bomb Group, by Peter Harris and Ken Harbour, and is the basis of this post.


Sgt. Bucceri's plane, serial number 42-39778, and known as "Lucky Ball," was part of the 511th Squadron on a 34-plane bombing run that took off on December 22, 1943 from its base in Polebrook, England on a daylight mission to bomb a steel mill in Osnabruck, Germany. In command of Lucky Ball was the pilot, Lt. Lewis Maginn of Rochester, New York.


It was to be the plane's fifth and final mission.

The Final Mission

According to Lt. Maginn's recollection of the event, Lucky Ball was anything but lucky on that mission. It had just been overhauled, with two engines ripped out and replaced by rebuilt ones. Lt. Maginn recalls being uneasy with the fact that the plane was pressed into service without the rebuilt engines having logged some more running time following the overhaul.

In addition to having to make the run with untested engines, two of the regular crew could not go on the mission and were replaced in the ball turret and tail gun positions.


Early into the flight, the pilot realized something was wrong. Bomb Groups assigned to the position behind them were rapidly gaining on Lucky Ball. Lt. Maginn put the hammer down to "near full power" and still found himself falling behind his formation.

And then the oil pressure in the number four engine began to drop.


The pilot killed the four engine and, being close to the target, tried to make the run with three motors.

Then the oil pressure on number three began dropping.


With two engines out on one side, and an impossible task to keep up, Lt. Maginn made the decision to break formation and turn back to base. The crew jettisoned its bomb load, ammo and equipment in hopes of lightening the load on the two remaining engine.

The End

The crew then mistook an American plane for an enemy fighter and dived into a cloud bank. But the maneuver cost the crew "precious altitude," according to Lt. Maginn. Then the oil pressure in number two began to drop.

The crew began to take flak from German fighters, worsening their altitude situation. The pilot was forced to shut down number two, leaving Lucky Ball one engine.


The crew dumped all remaining equipment, guns and ammunition and began a desperate run over the North Sea to the English coast. Sgt. Palmer, the radio man, sent out the SOS.


But there was no luck for Lucky Ball that night as it struggled westward into a gale headwind.

With the English coastline in plain view, the crew came to the realization they would never reach it.

They prepared to ditch their craft into the chop of the North Sea.


Cruising low above the waves, the pilot cut the last engine and tried to glide to a straight landing. The bomber hit the water at 85 miles per hour, breaking in half.


Lt. Maginn describes the intense cold of the North Sea in late December as "instantly numbing." The crash landing had jammed the cables on the life rafts, forcing the crew to "take to the water," their flotation devices their only hope for survival.

Huddled together in the freezing water they watched Lucky Ball sink below the waves. The first big wave to break over them scattered them about the sea, each man to his own.

Sgt. Palmer assured Maginn that the rescue squadrons had a fix on their position. But it would be 45 more agonizing minutes before the first boat appeared.


During that 45 minutes as the men drifted apart, Lt. Maginn later said, "the wind and bitter cold water took its toll rapidly." Five of the ten-man crew were rescued.

Perishing that night were the navigator, Lt. James McMorrow of Akron, Ohio, Sgts. Albert Meyer of Roswell, New Mexico, Docile Nadeau of Fort Keat Mills, Maine, and Clarence Rowlinson of Des Moines, Iowa. Sgt. Meyer was the only one whose body was recovered.

Sgts. Nadeau and Rowlinson were the replacement ball turret and tail gunners fatefully assigned to the flight that night.


The fifth crew member killed was my uncle, Sgt. Edward H. Bucceri of Jersey City, New Jersey.


No memorial marks the spot where these men went to their final rest. There was no military funeral at a national cemetery, no 21-gun salute, no honor guard. No one made a movie about the Lucky Ball's last run, and no Grammy-winning folk singer penned a mournful song . The crew that perished that night were just five of the more than 400,000 Americans killed in action in that war.

Today I remember one of them.

Rest in Peace,  Ed. Merry Christmas. And thank you.

Les Fleurs de la Mémoire

A post-script: Les Fleurs de la Mémoire (The Flowers of Remembrance) Society is a French service organization. Its members “adopt” the graves of fallen American service members who are buried in the American Cemetery in Normandy.


The father of our French nephew has adopted two such graves. Each spring the Les Fleurs de la Mémoire members decorate the American graves with fresh flowers and loving care, offering thoughtful prayers for those Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion, as Lincoln said, to a cause of liberty shared by both peoples.


The media do a good job of ginning up political conflicts between France and the U.S.  Sometimes they go so far as to suggest that the French are ungrateful for the sacrifices made by Americans in France during the World Wars. But I can tell you that nothing can be further from the truth. Les Fleurs de la Mémoire shows the strong bond between the people of the two countries.

As a relative of someone killed in the European theater and someone who preserves that bond, I say merci.