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Louisiana Fights Fraud With Mapping Software 2

The state's Department of Social Services is marrying food-stamp business-intelligence systems with GIS data about retailers.
"It's not just mining the data anymore," said H. Duane Fontenot, director of Louisiana's Department of Social Services' division of information services, about an application that uses business-intelligence software married with geographic information system software to try to cut down food-stamp fraud. "We want to look at things on an enterprisewide basis."

Louisiana's Department of Social Services has been employing the system, which uses business-intelligence software from Information Builders Inc. and GIS software from ESRI Inc., for about two months, said Fontenot, officially introducing the system at Information Builders' user conference in New Orleans on May 24.

The Web-based system allows the state's 19 social-services investigators to map transactional food-stamp data with geographic data about retailers to try to spot fraudulent activity. Fraud accounts for about 4% of the $700 million federally funded food-stamp program, so cutting fraud could mean saving millions in federal funds, Fontenot said.

The department has been using Information Builders' WebFocus business-intelligence software since the late 1990s for real-time reporting on food-stamp transactions.

Louisiana tapped IBM Global Services and a local consulting company, BlueStreak Technologies, to help develop the GIS system. Fontenot said the department officials are thinking about employing the system in connection with its child-support and day-care services. Louisiana's ultimate goal, though, said Fontenot, "is to become more efficient in providing services."

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