Analyzing National Trends in Welfare Fraud Prosecutions, Evaluating Processes, and Developing a Toolkit for the Referral of Prosecutable Cases to District Attorneys

Client: New York City Human Resources Administration
Faculty: Dennis Smith
Team: Amira El-Ghobashy, Michael Escosia, Myra Soto
Year: 2013

Serving over three million New York City residents, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) is the largest social services department in the nation. Investigations, Revenue & Enforcement Administration (IREA) is the investigative arm of HRA, uncovering everything from prescription drug fraud to duplicate food stamp cases. Data shows that while the number of welfare recipients is climbing, prosecution of public benefits fraud is declining in NYC. The Capstone team was tasked with researching whether this data meant fewer recipients are committing fraud despite the increase in public assistance, or if the threshold for prosecution has become more lenient as a result of the economic downturn. Through surveys, interviews and literature review, the Capstone team tracked patterns in fraud prosecution across the country and compared NYC figures to national trends. The team also conducted a process evaluation of IREA’s district attorney referral system and created a resource guide to improve the quality of cases referred for prosecution.