The Human Cost of Failed Government Technology
In 2005, the State of Texas signed a contract worth close to $900 million dollars with an alliance of private firms to manage the eligibility process for applying for Food Stamps, TANF, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs. The project was a failure - so much so that Texas cancelled the contract just over a year later. Applications were lost. People went hungry. Kids lost health insurance. Technology projects failed.In 2009, Indiana cancelled a $1.3 billion dollar social service privatization contract - citing poor service delivery.Big changes were necessary to modernize the delivery of these important services in Texas and Indiana, no doubt. In the end, some really good things were done by both States and the private firms they hired. But there was a lot of pain in between that could have been avoided. People unnecessarily suffered. Three people in the know will discuss what went down so that we can all learn from the mistakes and help prevent them in the future.
Corrie MacLaggan is an Austin-based national correspondent for Reuters. Before that, she covered Texas government and politics for the Austin American-Statesman, writing extensively about health and human services. A native Austinite, she has also worked as a journalist in Mexico City and in El Paso, Texas. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Erine is the founder of www.auntbertha.com, a site that makes it easy for people to find and apply for need-based services. Prior to starting Aunt Bertha, he spent four years working with a subcontractor that helped the Texas Health and Human Services Commission modernize the way people apply for government benefits.