SNAP fine: Reynolds pushes technology upgrades to fix problems

Local News

DES MOINES — Iowa’s Human Services Department is under fire after the federal government handed down a $1.8 million fine for mismanaging their SNAP program.

The US Department of Agriculture found the state over or underpaid people SNAP benefits almost 10% of the time.

That news came just weeks after Gov. Kim Reynolds asked former DHS Director Jerry Foxhoven to resign.

Local 5’s Chief Investigative Reporter Rachel Droze asked Reynolds why the problems with the SNAP program weren’t fixed since they were alerted to them a year ago.

“We’re going to, that’s why we’re looking forward to really taking a good look at that and going in a different direction,” Reynolds said.

Local 5 followed up by asking if she blamed Foxhoven for Iowa’s high error rate in 2018.

“No, I am saying that the agency, we’re not where we need to be,” Reynolds said. “We need to do things differently, and I need somebody to come in there and just take a fresh look at the programs that we’re implementing.”

Local 5 reached out to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to learn more the sanction.

They say Iowa has a few options for paying it.

They can pay it in full within 30 days, or they can invest state funds into improving the system to prevent future errors.

Reynolds says Iowa plans to pick option two.

“We’ll be working with them to see if there’s an opportunity for us to take some of that and reinvest it into technology so we can do a better job of really being more accountable to the program,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said she isn’t sure increasing the department’s annual budget is necessary.

She said she looking into it, but first wants to make sure DHS is using the money they have efficiently.

DHS told Local 5 they did hire 12 new income maintenance workers in May to help run assistance programs.

That addition comes after years of budget cuts.

In the last decade, DHS cut 1,000 workers.

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