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CPR Seminar Series: Pamela Herd

Eggers Hall, 060

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Pamela Herd (Georgetown University) will present "Unlocking the Front Door: Reducing Compliance Costs and Improving SNAP Retention through Pre-Population" as part of the CPR Seminar Series. Abstract: Policymakers have shown an increasing willingness to reduce administrative burdens that are impeding access to critical social safety net programs. One commonly proposed tool, which was highlighted in a recent Presidential Executive Order, involves pre-filling forms for applicants with existing administrative data. We test the effectiveness of “pre-filled forms” as a technical instrument to reduce compliance costs and administrative burdens. We argue that the nature of this intervention, and its effects, depends greatly on how it is implemented, contingent on factors such as policy design. We study the effect of pre-populating eligibility renewal forms when beneficiaries’ clients' recertify their eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As many as one-third of beneficiaries lose coverage during recertification, often due to their failure to navigate administrative procedures. Using a field experiment involving over 20,000 cases, we find that being offered the chance to use a webform pre-filled with information from their initial application increases the chance that clients submit the form by 11 percent. Our analysis shows that, in our case, the effects of pre-filling are concentrated at the initial stages of the application, where applicants authenticate their status by providing personal information and case number. The results point to the promise of reducing churn off programs at the re-certification stage by making administrative data that the client previously provided easily accessible to them, and paying particular attention to early stages of the process.  

For more information, please contact Alyssa Kirk.


Social Science and Public Policy



Open to


Students, Graduate and Professional


MAX-Center for Policy Research


Alyssa Kirk


Contact Alyssa Kirk to request accommodations