Lowering Implementation Costs with a Core WIC EBT system

by Jerry Owens, Card Services Director, and Sylvia Mitchem, Program Manager

Last year, we talked a lot about the changes facing WIC brought on by the mandates in the Healthy Hunger Free Kids act of 2010. Specifically, we talked about the benefits these mandates will bring, such as increased convenience for participants and WIC vendors, reduced administration costs, and faster and more accurate reporting with an online solution.

As you map out your goals for 2016, we want to give you even more information about how to meet these federal mandates by implementing a solution that is not only the best fit for your program, but also doesn’t bust your budget.

In most cases, upfront implementation costs for EBT are funded by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) technology grant, but many states are finding such funding limited. So in an effort to reduce upfront costs, states are requesting proposals without upfront fees so all EBT implementation costs will fall under “cost per case month” (CPCM), which is covered by a Nutrition Services and Administration (NSA) grant used for all staffing, food costs, and other administration expenses. In doing this, however, states end up in a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” scenario that increases the financial strain on their NSA grant.

You can avoid this situation and reduce the impact to the CPCM by implementing Xerox Connect Processing Solution for WIC. Because this is a core solution and starts with an established codebase, upfront development costs are less, and configurable functionality components can be added as needed to tailor the solution to each state’s individual needs. This allows an agency with limited funds for implementation to procure a complete and upgradeable WIC EBT solution at a lower cost.

Additional benefits of a core WIC EBT solution include:

  • EBT conveniences: Full EBT functionality including a direct circuit from a state’s data center to Xerox data centers. This configuration significantly improves the stability of the connection ensuring the WIC Connect system is available when needed and provides a higher level of security ensuring data is never exposed to the open web.
  • Customization: Modular components such as mail order formula and commissary approved product list can be added as an optional functionality at a lower cost.
  • Fast implementation: A core solution can be implemented in as little as nine to 12 months.
  • FNS approved: Standard FNS approved interfaces.
  • Streamlines work with vendors: Vendor integration, certification, and enablement including training materials.
  • Ability to easily modify materials: Full revision and approval on all vendor and cardholder training materials.
  • Controlled pilot testing: Separate user acceptance testing (UAT) and third party processor (TPP) environments with support for retail certification in parallel with state testing. This allows retail testing and certification to be performed against the WIC environment without impacting or interfering with testing between the MIS and EBT environments.
  • Top notch support: All required deliverables, training, and support from a fully staffed project team including account manager, implementation manager, quality assurance manager, development lead, and customer engineer.

Rest assured, the changes you are making (or about to make) will improve your entire process from start to finish. Programs in Virginia and Vermont are already seeing huge benefits from overhauling their programs.

We know these mandates are a big undertaking but we’re here to help. We can discuss and review the details of a core solution and identify where your needs differ and which modular enhancements are right for your program. This can help break down this massive project into something much more manageable and help you obtain the right solution at a price that fits.

You can reach us through email at Jerry.Owens2@xerox.com; Sylvia.Mitchem@xerox.com; or WIC@xerox.com.

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