Under the Dome

DHHS leader Wos responds to stinging food stamp review

The state Department of Health and Human Services formally replied to a critical review of its food stamp program, telling the federal government that it was correcting faulty processes, or telling the counties to do it.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees food stamps, issued a report in September describing 38 deficiencies in state and local management of the food stamp program, many of which “are significant and show lack of oversight and internal controls.”

On one issue, DHHS said it did not agree. The USDA found fault with the state online food stamp application because it requires residents to have an email address. The law prohibits states from adding application requirements that exceed federal rules.

In a written response dated Friday, DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos said email addresses are needed for security, and that the web application improves access.

Applicants have other ways to submit their paperwork, she wrote. They can download and print an application or apply in person at a county social services office.

Disabling the web-based application “would be a disservice to the citizens of North Carolina,” she wrote.

Some issues regarding outdated application forms and missing written notices to applicants will be corrected no later than Dec. 22, Wos wrote. On other administrative matters, such as tracking client complaints, DHHS has sent or will send letters to local social services departments about required procedures, she wrote.