|DATE:||July 17, 2020|
|SUBJECT:||Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) –Waiver of Quality Control (QC) Face-to-Face Interview Requirement Due to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency – Blanket Approval|
|TO:||SNAP State Agency Directors|
As authorized by SNAP regulations at 7 CFR 272.3(c)(1)(i), the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will allow state agencies to suspend requirements at 7 CFR 275.12(c)(1) to conduct face-to-face interviews for QC active reviews through Sept. 30, 2020.
SNAP regulations at 7 CFR 275.12(c)(1) require state agencies to conduct personal face-to-face interviews for QC active case reviews at the participant's home, at an appropriate state agency certification office, or at a mutually agreed upon alternative location. FNS policy also allows states to conduct video conferencing interviews in lieu of face-to-face interviews and to conduct telephone interview for households that received $100 or less in benefits during the sample month. This wavier approval will allow state agencies to conduct telephone interviews in lieu of face-to-face for all QC interviews that take place from the date of issuance of this waiver through Sept. 30, 2020, regardless of the case sample month.
Under the authority of 7 CFR 272.3(c)(1)(i), FNS may authorize temporary waivers to deviate from specific regulatory provisions when they cannot be implemented due to extraordinary temporary situations. State agencies have reported challenges in conducting face-to-face interviews for quality control reviewers. Some state agencies continue to experience limited in-person capacity at local certification offices. In addition, as result of local guidelines that affect how businesses operate and on-going public health recommendations for social distancing, even as stay-at-home orders are lifted, state agencies face challenges with contacting households and employers in order to verify circumstances for quality control cases. By providing flexibility to conduct quality control interviews through telephone instead of requiring face-to-face contact, this should allow state agencies to complete more verification and case reviews while also ensuring the continued health and safety of quality control reviewers and households. As a result, FNS has determined that temporarily waiving the quality control face-to-face interview requirement shall improve the effectiveness of program administration due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
FNS is ready to provide technical assistance to state agencies as they seek to maintain operations and serve clients during the current public health emergency. State agencies must notify their respective regional office representative if they elect to adopt this flexibility.
Program Accountability and Administration Division