+Bromberg, Katherine, EBT Disaster Aid Integration: Lessons from Katrina, Possible Solutions, and Foreseeable Complications (UC Berkeley School of Law, Law 224.9, Disasters & the Law, Spring 2007) (PDF — 88K)
"Hurricane Katrina was an unprecedented physical and administrative disaster. In addition to the loss of life, human suffering and physical debris left in its wake, there was substantial financial and procedural disorganization in the provision of relief services due to fraud, understaffing, unclear guidelines, and general lack of preparation. This paper explores the problem of fraud after Katrina and offers a solution for providing aid more effectively in the event of a future disaster. This can be achieved through use of Electronic Benefits Technology (EBT) and the centralization of beneficiary demographic databases, which would require much broader information sharing among federal, state, and local governments and non-profits in order to provide faster and broader emergency services and safeguards against fraud.
"Problems will doubtlessly arise because vast information sharing decreases the privacy of victims and leaves them open to criminal prosecution and deportation. In addition, reliance on public databases to provide verification of identification for emergency benefits is likely to aggravate the ability of vulnerable populations, such as undocumented aliens, to obtain aid, which could result in the denial of services to actual residents in great need. An emergency system must therefore endeavor to use EBT and information sharing resources to speed intake and prevent fraud, while not neglecting these vulnerable populations by installing strict privacy regulations and providing victims with the assurance that their information will not be used for any adverse purpose. A fully interoperable EBT system together with advanced planning and increased staffing will almost certainly ensure that the next disaster will not be an administrative tragedy."—Abstract.