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Rescinding Section of Sept. 13, 2018 Memo "Innovation and Evaluation in SNAP Demonstration Projects"

EO Guidance Document #
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PDF Icon Policy Memo (249.12 KB)
DATE: October 27, 2021
SUBJECT: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – Rescinding section of Sept. 13, 2018 memo, "Innovation and Evaluation in SNAP Demonstration Project
TO: All SNAP State Agencies
All Regions

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has the authority under section 17(b) of the Food and Nutrition of 2008 (the Act) to conduct demonstration projects to test changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that may increase program efficiency and improve SNAP benefit delivery. 1 Under this authority, states may request waivers of certain provisions of the Act. FNS reviews these requests as they are submitted, provides technical assistance to states wishing to develop demonstration projects, and monitors approved projects.

On Sept. 13, 2018, FNS released a memorandum outlining, among other things, its intention to use the SNAP demonstration authority to encourage innovation and evaluate new ideas for novel approaches to SNAP administration. The memo also laid out criteria for reviewing proposals for new types of demonstration projects and for phasing-out ineffective or unnecessary demonstration projects.

Rescinding Requirements for Innovative Components in Demonstration Projects

Under the subheading “Renewing Existing Demonstration Projects with Modifications,” the memo required ongoing demonstration projects to incorporate an innovative approach to program administration, supported by an evaluation. Since that time, FNS has been working with state agencies to incorporate an innovative element into each demonstration project in advance of approval. However, meeting the “innovative component” requirement in the 2018 memo has contributed to delays in the project approval process and created additional reporting requirements for states without producing significant or meaningful changes in project operations. Furthermore, FNS has not found the requirement to be an effective way to encourage program improvements. Therefore, FNS no longer believes that the “innovative component” requirements set forth in the 2018 memo are necessary or beneficial to the administration of SNAP demonstration authority.

FNS hereby rescinds the requirements of the Sept. 13, 2018, “Innovation and Evaluation in SNAP Demonstration Projects” memo under the subheading “Renewing Existing Demonstration Projects with Modifications.” States are welcome, but no longer required, to include innovative elements in their requests to continue demonstration projects. FNS remains committed to considering all state requests for demonstration projects that align with the goals of Section 17(b) of the Act and tailoring existing project models to meet differing states’ needs.

States may continue to submit requests for new projects or modifications to existing projects at any time. Innovative components that have been approved for current demonstration projects will remain in effect unless a state wishes to revise or eliminate an innovative element. If a state wishes to revise an approved demonstration project, the state should submit a modification request to FNS via the Waiver Information Management System (WIMS). To ensure that requests include all necessary information and to reduce processing time, states are encouraged to contact FNS for guidance prior to submitting new requests. The demonstration project request templates in WIMS have been updated to reflect that the innovation element is no longer required.

Other Memo Provisions

All other sections of the memo, including “New Demonstration Projects,” “Phasing-out Demonstration Projects,” “Acting on Evaluations,” and “State and FNS Partnership,” will remain in effect.

State agencies with questions should contact their respective regional office representatives.

Sasha Gersten-Paal
Program Development Division


1 The information collection burden for requesting a demonstration project is covered under OMB Control Number 0584-0083.
Page updated: April 18, 2023

The contents of this guidance document do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public in any way. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.