This website has been all over the S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS), exposing problems at the Palmetto State’s welfare agency that – until recently – went completely unreported by the mainstream media.

That changed this year.  In fact SCDSS director Lillian Koller was forced to resign as a result of scandals at the agency blowing up – although as we’ve noted her departure hasn’t really fixed anything at the agency.

Case in point?  Ongoing issues with the agency’s implementation of federal food stamp benefits.

According to our sources, program managers of the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are worried Washington is about to revoke a waiver now being used in the Palmetto State that allows clients to have their applications processed by phone.

Sources at the agency tell FITS the average wait time for this call system is seventy minutes – which the feds say is far too long for people to remain on hold.

“The current system in play now is not working,” one SCDSS source told us, adding that the agency refuses to invest in front-line personnel but spends millions of dollars on unnecessary bureaucracy.

“More and more money is being wasted every day on new systems, more consultants, more job developers, more mid-level supervisors,” the source explained, adding that “if all the money that has been wasted on failed processes was used to hire more line workers we would not be in this mess.”

Not only that, our source claims that local offices are “no longer equipped” to process applications in person.

Also SCDSS employees are being told not to speak about problems with the current system to state lawmakers – part of an ongoing effort by the agency to keep information hidden from the S.C. General Assembly.

FITS has previously reported on serious problems with South Carolina’s food stamp distribution – notably the alleged fudging of error rates.  These “cooked books” allegedly created artificial reductions that enabled our state to receive more federal money.  In fact this website published SCDSS documents showing that the agency’s food stamp error rate magically disappearing over a period of a few months in 2011.

Sounds like fraud to us …

How much money is spent on food stamps in South Carolina?  It’s not clear.  The state’s food stamp budget – roughly $1.5 billion a year in 2013 – was yanked offline this year.

Nationally, 23 million American families received food stamps in 2013 – or 20 percent of all American households.  The program cost taxpayers $80 billion – more than twice the inflation-adjusted $30 billion it cost taxpayers in 2003.