The National Automated Clearing House Association has hired Helena Sims to oversee its electronic benefits transfer council.

Ms. Sims, 44, brings to her post as senior director more than a decade of experience helping states develop EBT programs. She reports to Elliott McEntee, the association's president and chief executive.

Benefits transfer relies on networks of electronic terminals or automated teller machines to distribute government payments. Recipients are given plastic cards for access to funds that were traditionally delivered by check or as food stamps.

"My mission is to be an honest broker in bringing the various interests and stakeholders in EBT to the table," said Ms. Sims. "I've worked a lot on developing consensus opinions on EBT, from the state perspective, groups representing recipients, private industry stakeholders, and Congress."

The objective of the association's benefits council is to set national operating rules for distributing benefits electronically.

The council has met with some resistance from some transaction processors and regional banking networks.

Ms. Sims contends that the opposition is not as strong as it was when the council was first formed.

"People are becoming more interested and more supportive of the Nacha EBT council," she said. "The time for the council is now."

Ms. Sims' first priority is to establish - and get approval for - the operating rules. The rules will be discussed at the council's mid-December meeting, and Ms. Sims hopes they will be approved then.

"After that, my priority will be continuing to develop a foundation for nationwide EBT," she said. "I'll be keeping an eye on emerging technology - like smart cards - and see how EBT can benefit from that."

Ms. Sims spent the past 12 months as a benefits transfer consultant to the private sector. Before that, she was director of the Washington office of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers for nine years.

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