We collected data from four sources to identify benefits access efforts that fell within the study’s scope: publicly available documents, online resources, Mathematica’s in-house knowledge, and a limited number of collateral contacts. Because we focused primarily on readily accessible public sources of information, it is possible that we overlooked some efforts that meet the inclusion criteria. Nevertheless, we are confident that our search produced a representative snapshot of efforts as they existed in early 2011.
- Publicly available documents. We searched Nexis, journal databases, and Google to find published reports, briefs, articles, and case studies that discuss benefits access efforts. Included in this review were public documents on benefits access issues that Mathematica and ASPE had obtained that were not necessarily available using other search procedures. Documents that contained detailed information about specific efforts are identified as sources of information in the summaries of efforts presented in Volume II.
- Online resources. Online resources include the websites of public agencies and other relevant entities. Using information compiled by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, we reviewed the online screeners or benefit calculators of state agencies and online applications. We also reviewed the websites of benefits access efforts identified through the other three data collection methods.
- In-house knowledge. Mathematica staff have examined the issue of benefits access for years, and we have several projects underway related to benefit access that look at the issue from the perspective of a discrete program or set of programs. We asked the staff for information about benefits access initiatives that may not be publicly available and about those currently in development.
- Collateral contacts. We solicited input through personal contacts with advocates, researchers, and industry contractors via email and brief telephone conversations. We asked these contacts to suggest efforts that they think are most relevant, given the scope of the scan, and to share details about the implementation of the efforts. We contacted stakeholders focused on benefits access and/or vulnerable populations, state agency needs, and technology solutions.