Section 850 - Waiver Authority
Q. The expanded waiver authority permits approval of waivers that
would reduce benefits by no more than 20 percent for no more than 5 percent
of the affected households. How will these parameters be determined and
what will be the monitoring obligations?
A. Congress has granted the Secretary the authority to approve projects
that would reduce benefits. However, for projects that reduce benefits
by more than 20 percent for 5 percent of the affected households, Congress
has established limits on both the scope (no more than 15 percent of the
State's caseload) and the duration (5 years) of the demonstration. The
initial analysis as to the degree that a demonstration project will reduce
benefits will be conducted by FNS headquarters. All demonstration projects
will continue to be approved at the national office FNS headquarters.
FNS does not anticipate additional State monitoring beyond that normally
required under the evaluation and cost-neutrality provisions of the Waiver
Terms and Conditions. Also, there is currently no expectation of increasing
the role of FNS' Regional Offices in regard to monitoring.
Q. The waiver language speaks to an evaluation requirement. However,
many waivers do not really require an evaluation. As waivers become "routine"
will evaluation remain a requirement?
A. In general, welfare reform demonstration projects propose hypotheses
that can only be substantiated through an evaluation. Additionally, the
statute requires the Department to attach an evaluation component to welfare
reform demonstration projects.
Q. If a provision of P. L. 104-193 conflicts with a waiver previously
granted under a welfare reform demonstration project, is the waiver still
A. The Waiver Terms and Conditions for the welfare reform demonstration
projects contain the following statement: "If Federal or State statutes
or regulations that would have a major effect on the design and impact
of this demonstration are enacted, the Department and the State will reassess
the overall demonstration and develop a mutually agreed-upon strategy
for dealing with the demonstration in the context of such changes. If
such a mutually agreed-upon strategy cannot be developed, the Department
reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to withdraw any or all waivers
at such time(s) as the department determines."
In the coming months, FNS will assess each welfare reform demonstration
project that contains Food Stamp Program waivers and will work with State
agencies to develop a strategy that best meets the overall goals and needs
of States as they move forward their plans to implement TANF. States are
encouraged to contact FNS with specific questions pertaining to their
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