Department Chair

Dr. Laurie Buonanno

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access


Political Science Department


Dr. Laurie Buonanno

First Reader

Dr. Laurie Buonanno

Second Reader

Mr. Miguel Reyes-Mariano


The purpose of this study is to examine the administrative style used in New York State (NYS) counties for administering two needs-based federal programs: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Needs-based federally-funded policies have significant implications for public administration and intergovernmental relations because these programs involve public servants in the determination and delivery of services of federally-mandated programs which states deliver through a variety of models (state, county, or contracting with private or nonprofit agencies). In NYS, counties are given this responsibility. While the numbers of persons receiving TANF has leveled off since the Clinton-era welfare reforms, the number of SNAP recipients has increased dramatically, especially over the past decade. The increase in SNAP eligibility, which is expected to continue to climb as more baby boomers retire with inadequate pensions and savings, is straining the state resources (which must pay 50% of SNAP’s administration costs). There are three models for administering human services – case-based, task-based, and a mixture of the two. This study utilized a parallel convergent mixed methods design: on strand was the collection of US Census data and the second strand was based on in-depth interviews with county social service directors in NYS. This study inventories administrative styles in a sample of 12 NYS counties and examines potential factors for selection of case-based, task-based, or mixed-methods processing and monitoring of cases. It was found that task-based administration is more likely to be used by counties with a high number of SNAP recipients. It was also found that counties using the task-based method have higher worker productivity than counties using case-based and mixed methods approaches. Availability of technology is an important determinant of whether a county adopts a task-based administrative style. Future research should explore caseworkers’ attitudes and input in transitioning to more efficient, task-based systems; for example, one study conducted in Erie County found that millennials are more amenable to technology innovations, which is consistent with the task-based approach.