The federal agency that oversees food stamps this week agreed to let Texas expand a new computer enrollment system in a limited way.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service had warned the state Health and Human Services Commission that it had concerns about the computer system known as TIERS, in part because the state has struggled to process food stamp cases as quickly as required. Processing time for cases in TIERS has lagged significantly behind cases processed in the state's older computer system.
This week, William Ludwig of the Food and Nutrition Service told Hawkins in a letter that Texas may expand use of TIERS, but only to 22 percent of food stamp cases. About 13 percent are in TIERS now, according to commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman.
Ludwig wrote that although the state has made efforts to improve customer service, "far too many approvals remain untimely and call center performance needs to be more constant."