Gossip has long been one of the most dismissed fotms of communication. Since the 1920s, nonetheless, some social scientists have attempted to understand gossip and its social utility. These scholars (be they anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, linguists, historians, or feminists) have argued that gossip plays a significant role in a number of both premodern and modern communities. However, despite a growing body of work that examines gossip in the private sphere, there has been almost no discussion of the role of gossip in public policy or, more specifically, in welfare state administration. This article will attempt to rectify that omission by providing evidence of how state administrators in one jurisdiction in two historical periods have utilized gossip to help determine which poor single mothers should receive welfare. I argue that this is not merely a custom of early administrators during the formative years of the welfare state but, rather, that the contemporary welfare state apparatus accommodates, and even encourages, the use of gossip in present-day welfare administration.