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WIC Technology & Program Integrity Conference kicks off!

Yesterday kicked off the biannual Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Technology & Program Integrity Conference. Reverend Douglas Greenaway, president and CEO of the National WIC Association (NWA), delivered a powerful message about the urgent need for WIC advocates to contact state congressional representatives and stress fully funding the WIC program in the stopgap bill that must be passed by September 30 to avoid a government shutdown. Greenway’s opening statement also urged state agencies to strive for statewide EBT implementation and rollout by 2018, two years prior to the October 2020 federal deadline.
 
The first general session – an update from the Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) – provided latest news on the WIC MIS, EBT and program integrity fronts. Most notable was the exciting announcement that $44 million in funding was recently allocated to WIC state agencies for infrastructure and technology projects for MIS and EBT. At this time, 72 percent of states are in some form of EBT, whether it be planning or statewide rollout. With that, FNS is confident that all states will reach the October 2020 deadline for EBT implementation.
 
Uncertainty is certainly prevalent at the conference. Most state program officials I spoke with are still in the dark about whether to choose an online of offline solution for WIC EBT. The opening of the exhibit hall proved there are numerous choices out there for states, and vendors are eager to promote their solutions. It was apparent that preliminary discussions with vendors will likely play a large role in guiding the development of RFP requirements for EBT systems in individual states. State representatives have been eager to ask questions of both FNS staff and vendors to help guide them in figuring out their state’s path to EBT rollout.
 
In addition to several sessions on MIS and EBT systems, the conference agenda features presentations on the critical role of data and data mining, efforts to improve vendor management, the role of mobile in WIC, and effective methods to reduce fraud and abuse of WIC benefits.
 
Stay tuned for more conference updates!

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