Electronic Benefits Transfer Program Task Force

WHEREAS: R.S. 46:450.1 authorizes the Office of Family Support, Department of Social Services to develop and implement an electronic issuance system for the authorization and distribution of benefits and services that are provided by public entitlement programs, including the food stamp program and the aid to families and dependant children cash benefit program;

WHEREAS: the Office of Family Support contracted with an electronic benefits transfer provider, Deluxe Data Systems, Inc., to create and implement an electronic issuance system, known as the Electronic Benefits Transfer Program (hereafter "EBT Program"), that includes plastic cards for program clients, training for department personnel, and instruction in proper use of the electronic issuance system for clients, merchants, and all other program participants;

WHEREAS: the Louisiana Legislature enacted Act 1483 of the 1997 Regular Legislative Session in response to the concerns of participating merchants who voiced their objections to the unanticipated additional costs and administrative burdens which result when the merchant interfaces with the electronic benefits transfer provider;

WHEREAS: the State of Louisiana has a duty to make sure that the clients of the Office of Family Support are being well served and that the merchants participating in the EBT Program are being treated fairly; and

WHEREAS: the interests of citizens of the State of Louisiana would be best served if an independent body were created for the purpose of providing the Governor objective advice regarding the various administrative components of the EBT Program and its potential problems, especially as to any negative impact that the EBT Program may have on participating merchants;

NOW THEREFORE I, M.J. "MIKE" FOSTER, JR., Governor of the State of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and laws of the State of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:

SECTION 1: The Electronic Benefits Transfer Program Task Force (hereafter "task force") is established within the Executive Department, Office of the Governor.

SECTION 2: The duties of the task force shall include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A. preparing a preliminary report, due by October 15, 1997, which identifies all potential problems associated with electronic benefit transfers and the EBT Program, including those which could occur as a result of misuse or when interfacing occurs between the provider, the clients, and the merchants participating in the program;

  • B. conducting in-depth studies of, and compiling information on, electronic authorization and distribution of public entitlement benefit services;

  • C. preparing a comprehensive report, due by February 1, 1998, that is based on compiled data and the results of the in-depth studies referred to in Section 2(B), which addresses all matters associated with the EBT Program, including the impact of the program on the clients and merchants participating in the program and the need for uniform statewide regulation of electronic benefit transfers and card usage; and

  • D. preparing draft legislation, rules, and/or regulations which facilitate the proper implementation of the EBT Program.
  • SECTION 3: The task force shall be composed of at least seven members appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the Governor. The membership of the task force shall be selected as follows:

  • A. the chief of staff, Office of the Governor, or the chief of staff's designee;

  • B. the secretary of the Department of Social Services;

  • C. the commissioner of Administration, or the commissioner's designee;

  • D. the assistant secretary of the Department of Social Services, Office of Family Support;

  • E. the state treasurer, Department of Treasury, or the treasurer's designee; and

  • F. two representatives of the Louisiana Retailers Association.
  • SECTION 4: The secretary of the Department of Social Services shall chair the task force. The membership of the task force shall elect all other officers.

    SECTION 5: The task force shall meet at regularly scheduled intervals and at the call of the chair.

    SECTION 6: Support staff for the task force and facilities for its meetings shall be provided by the Department of Social Services.

    SECTION 7: Task Force members shall not receive compensation or a per diem. Nonetheless, contingent upon the availability of funds, a member who is not an employee of the State of Louisiana or one of its political subdivisions, or an elected statewide official, may receive reimbursement from the Office of the Governor for actual travel expenses incurred, in accordance with state guidelines and procedures, and upon the approval of the commissioner of administration.

    SECTION 8: All departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and officers of the state, or any political subdivision thereof, are authorized and directed to cooperate with the task force in implementing the provisions of this Order.

    SECTION 9: This Order is effective upon signature and shall continue in effect until amended, modified, terminated, or rescinded by the Governor, or terminated by operation of law.

    IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the City of Baton Rouge, on this 8th day of September, 1997.

    M.J. "Mike" Foster, Jr.

    Fox McKeithen
    Secretary of State