Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Peter Kobrak

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Reding

Third Advisor

Dr. Steven Garrard


Federal agencies have begun to devote greater attention to detecting welfare fraud. This dissertation reviews three proposed alternatives to the current Paper- Based system for preventing welfare fraud, namely, the Paper-Based system with Fingerprint Imaging, Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), and EBT with Fingerprint Imaging. It also examines the policy implications likely to result from implementation of these various systems.

Practitioners were randomly selected from agency directories and mailed a survey. Information was sought on their socioeconomic background, professional affiliations, and opinions on several welfare fraud detection systems.

Statistically significant differences in their responses resulted from differences in their socioeconomic backgrounds, agency affiliations, and professions. Law enforcement, city and county employees, and noncollege graduates more often preferred the EBT with Fingerprint Imaging system for preventing the most common forms of welfare fraud. EBT administrators, state and federal practitioners, college graduates, and city and county respondents placed their confidence in the technologies of fingerprinting as the most accurate means to identify an individual and opted for combining EBT with Fingerprinting system.

State, federal, and EBT administrators over 40 years of age feared it would be difficult to prevent unauthorized access to welfare recipient fingerprints and to provide real time data with such a system. There was also concern that use of Personal Identification Numbers would not positively prove who was accessing benefits.

Three major policy concerns were expressed by the respondents about the generally preferred EBT with Fingerprint Imaging System: (1) its excessive cost, (2) the feasibility o f limiting access to authorized representatives, and (3) the threat posed by fingerprinting to the constitutional rights of welfare recipients.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access