Daniels Admits IBM Failure/Expands ACS Contract

How goofy can you get. Governor Daniels at what was likely the last minute to act before the testimony at today’s budget subcommittee hearings on the failed privatization project would likely be the lead story, cancels IBM’s contract. And The Indianapolis Star acts like it is brave mea culpa. Daniels FSSA Cronyism

The story here is that IBM is out and was only brought in as a teammate for this contract so that Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) wouldn’t be the top name on the RFQ submittal. Since it would look pretty dicey, and was pretty dicey for Mitch Roob to leave ACS to go to work as Daniels’ Director of Family and Social Services Administration and immediately give his old company this sizable contract.

A contract that just gets more sizable by the day. With IBM’s exit, ACS is just going to get more business out of this. The “hybrid system” Daniels is implementing will grow this private layer of ACS intake personnel and supervisors that will in turn cases over to government caseworkers.

Caseworkers may still never have direct interaction with the clients even though part of the federal governments concern was that there mist be a state government official to sign off on determinations. So ACS just gets to grow this failed contract even as IBM gets tossed. Thanks Mitch Roob.

ACS keeps getting more business too. In addition to this contract they’ve been awarded more Daniels Administration plums. Not the least of which is the Healthy Families contract they are vying for funded with tobacco tax funds.

All this while their main government contract with FSSA and the Governor’s largest privatization effort was in trouble all the way up to the federal government for failure to provide service and lack of accountability.

Representative Dennis Avery (D-Evansville) put it best when he told A Loyal Opposition, “I guess the administration thought they were doing such a bang-up job that they awarded them more work.”

The Star even points out that there are substantial questions about the capability of ACS.

IBM’s contract will be terminated Dec. 14, and a new contract will be negotiated with ACS and other companies, according to Marcus Barlow, an FSSA spokesman.He said some details, including what happens to the call centers where initial applications were made under the IBM system, need to be worked out.

Ken Ericson, a spokesman for ACS, said the company “remains fully committed to the success of this project.”

Its continued involvement, though, concerns some of the same groups that on Thursday were applauding Daniels’ decision to ax IBM.

John Cardwell, chairman of the Indiana Home Care Task Force — a coalition of organizations for the elderly and disabled that has pushed for the cancellation of the IBM contract — called Daniels’ decision to restore face-to-face contact a positive.But, he said, complaints have been raised about ACS employees’ lack of knowledge about federal welfare laws, and he said he’d prefer to see experienced state-employed caseworkers handle the initial contacts.Legislators who had been inundated with constituent complaints and had launched hearings into the IBM-led system hailed Daniels’ decision.

It is doubtful that they even have the capacity for this type of contract management. But that doesn’t stop a company from accepting more work. Even Republican blogger Paul Ogden is admitting that these things smack of cronyism:

Originally started for the purpose of introducing competition into the delivery of services normally provided by government, privatization has devolved into a new form of patronage for elected officials seeking campaign contributions. Further, the original goal of privatization – competition – has been subverted by long-term, monopolistic contracts and a failure to supervise the contractor’s performance under those contracts.


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