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GCN : September 2015
case study BY STEPHANIE KANOWITZ ANALYTICS Hurricane Katrina prompted five states to pool their information to reduce fraud and abuse of disaster and food assistance Multistate database cuts duplicate benefits In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, massive amounts of aid were pumped into five Gulf Coast states, and officials quickly realized they were facing the potential for abuse and fraud. In response, Alabama, Florida, Geor- gia, Louisiana and Mississippi created the National Accuracy Clearinghouse (NAC), which uses identity analytics and advanced linking technology to find duplicate benefit applications in near-real time. As a result, Mississippi is now sav- ing about $161,000 a month — or $1.9 million a year — in duplicate benefit payments. And the group wants to ex- pand its reach because the more states that participate, the more improper payments will be found, increasing the potential for savings. “After Hurricane Katrina, there had been so many states involved in issuing food and disaster assistance, or [Disas- ter Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], there was a lot of room for duplicate participation and/or fraud across those states,” said Joel Savell, NAC project director. “The states were limited in how they could prevent that and ensure program integrity. It was pretty much a manual process due to the extent of the disaster.” Beyond addressing fraud in disaster assistance, NAC helps the states reduce duplicative payments through the over- all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which they had been doing individually and without much collabo- ration, Savell added. The states regularly submit their data to NAC in an agreed-upon for- mat. When people apply for assistance, NAC uses algorithms to find overlaps in identifying information across the LORIMARTIN/SHUTTERSTOCK Distributing the massive influx of aid after Hurricane Katrina made state officials realize that they needed a better system to identify duplicate applications. 28 GCN SEPTEMBER 2015 • GCN.COM 0915gcn_028-029.indd 28 9/2/15 9:18 AM