Category Archives: Social.Services

Private firms do government work with little scrutiny / Is the state benefiting by farming out more jobs to outside firms? No one knows.

Source:By Eric Dexheimer,
Corrie MacLaggan, AMERICAN-STATESMAN
(TX),Sunday, January 25,
2009

 

First
in an occasional series on the privatization trend  in state
government.

Over the years,
Texas
legislators have ordered state agencies to hire private firms to build and
maintain the state’s roads, operate its parks, oversee its prisons, sign up its
welfare recipients and develop its information technology systems, among
other things.  Each time the government signs another deal with these companies
to take over jobs it has traditionally performed itself, politicians promise it
will save tax dollars by bringing the efficiencies of the private sector to the
cumbersome bureaucracies of government.  So how much money has outsourcing
actually saved Texans?  No one knows.

……At the same time, the U.S. Department of Justice’s recent report [titled: U.S. Department of Justice Statewide CRIPA Investigation of the Texas State Schools and Centers] of ongoing abuse and neglect at the state’s institutions for people with mental retardation was seen by some as proof of government’s systemic incompetence — a key argument for privatization.

Related editorial:EDITORIAL:
Contracts should serve public, not private
sector

American Statesman
(TX),Tuesday, January 27,
2009

A new series of occasional but
in-depth stories about how the state of Texas contracts with private firms or
individuals to perform services for the public began in the Austin
American-Statesman on Sunday, and it immediately laid out an important problem:
No one can document that such contracts have benefited the public, even as the
state appears to rely more than ever on them.

 

 

State of Neglect: Four part series

Source: Dallas Morning News, January 2009

Texas has long been hard on the weak and vulnerable. It fares badly in national surveys of child poverty, food assistance and care for the mentally ill and disabled. But it isn’t only the poor and afflicted who need help; everyone relies on state government for some protection. Not everyone receives it. Business interests and lobbyists exert strong influence on the writing of laws and the workings of state government.

Part 1: Privatizing state programs for the poor, disabled and elderly was supposed to be more efficient and cost-effective. But as the number of complaints grow, private companies, lobbyists and former state officials profit.

Part 2: Influential health-care corporations wanted to limit public access to information about abuses and deficiencies in hospitals. Lobbyists and some Texas legislators were happy to oblige.

Part 3: When heavy industry goes up against public interest before the state’s environmental agency, political influence gives one side an edge.

Part 4: Five years after sweeping reforms were supposed to help, Texans still pay some of the highest insurance premiums in the country for reduced coverage.

The Best Way to Help the Unemployed

Source: By Alan B. Krueger, Alan B. Krueger is an economist at Princeton., New York Times Economix blog, October 20, 2008, 12:46 pm

You would think that if the government spent over a million dollars on research and discovered that a new way of helping the unemployed find jobs was less effective and more costly than the old way, it would continue with the old way. Yet the Bush administration has done the opposite. It buried a careful study that found that outsourcing job placement services for the unemployed at the local level was less effective than traditional state public labor exchange services, and continued with its pursuit to contract-out and devolve a cost-effective program.

… …. . A team of well-regarded researchers at WESTAT conducted a thorough five-year study that was completed in February 2004. Release of the report was delayed for four and a half years. The Labor Department quietly released it on the Web on Sept. 11, 2008. In fact, the report is so deeply buried that even if you Google its title, “Evaluation of Labor Exchange Services in a One-Stop Delivery System Environment”, it does not come up. If you want to find it, click here.

Low-rated company lobbies hard for multimillion-dollar L.A. County contract

Source: By Garrett Therolf, Los Angeles Times (CA), October 30, 2008

Over the last 20 years, Los Angeles County taxpayers have paid tens of millions of dollars to a Virginia-based company to perform work criticized repeatedly as inadequate by county officials. Faced with the possibility that its $32-million contract won’t be renewed, Maximus Inc. has spent more than $124,000 this year on lobbyists and thousands more on political contributions to county supervisors, including some not running for reelection for two more years. Maximus’ story illustrates the intense fights that go on as the Board of Supervisors doles out millions of dollars in often lucrative contracts. In Maximus’ case, as well as many others, a county contract offers the possibility of a big payout for providing services to the poor.

…. The recommendation to cut Maximus follows previous efforts by county officials to sever the county’s relationship with the company, whose aggregate 13 years of service have been marked at times by significant shortcomings.

Updated: Under heavy lobbying, L.A. County supervisors agree to rebid welfare contract
By Garrett Therolf | November 19, 2008 (no link)

Opponents speak out about FSSA system

Source: By Bob Scott, Journal & Courier (IN), October 15, 2008

A total of 59 Indiana counties are involved in the privatization of Medicaid and food stamps. Gov. Mitch Daniels started the official rollout to counties in October 2007, but it is unclear when Tippecanoe County’s Family and Social Services Administration office will join the process. “There is no timetable,” said Lauren Auld, Indiana FSSA spokeswoman. “FSSA has been supporting 15 or so counties that were flooded this summer and in September. “The rollout for other counties has been postponed indefinitely.”

….. Cardwell said the state contract with the IBM/Affiliated Computer Services coalition must be terminated. He said the state should take over the welfare system once more.

Welfare privatization criticized by advocates / A group of elderly advocates criticized the year-old privatization plan at a Wednesday press conference.

Source: By NICK WERNER, Star Press (IN), October 9, 2008

Advocates for Indiana’s seniors called on state government Wednesday to return traditional caseworkers to Indiana’s welfare system. In a press conference at the Center Township Trustee’s office, representatives of Indiana Home Care Task Force, Indiana Alliance for Retired Americans, United Senior Action of Indiana and Madison County Triad criticized a move that privatized the delivery of welfare benefits, including food stamps and Medicaid. The project launched a year ago in a 12-county pilot region that included Delaware County and has since been expanded to other parts of the state.

Refugees explain problems getting aid

Source: Associated Press (IN), September 9, 2008

Myanmar refugees who are struggling to get benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid are asking congressional staffers for help. Refugees met this weekend to tell their stories to Senate Foreign Relations Committee senior staffer Keith Luse and Cathy Gallmeyer, director of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar’s northeast Indiana office.

……. Some Burmese refugees have blamed delays in receiving aid on changes to the state’s welfare eligibility system that were implemented in the Fort Wayne area in May.

Drawing the Line between Public and Private Responsibility in Child Welfare: The Texas Debate

Source: CPPP, September 4, 2008

Protecting children and strengthening families is difficult, complicated work. Doing it well requires successfully engaging the entire community–both the public and private sectors. In this report, we explore the issues raised by how a state draws the line between public and private responsibility, and we make specific policy recommendations. The report compares Texas to the two states that have most completely privatized, Kansas and Florida.

Ind. agency wants to move lawsuit to federal court

Source: Associated Press (IN), 09.02.08, 6:18 PM ET

Indiana’s human services agency is seeking to move to federal court a lawsuit that would block the state from extending changes in welfare eligibility screening to 13 northern counties. The Family and Social Services Administration filed the motion Tuesday in U.S. District Court in South Bend, agency spokeswoman Lauren Auld said. The agency did not yet know if its motion had been granted.

…… The suit contends that FSSA has not adequately told welfare clients that they still have a right to face-to-face interviews with state case workers despite the addition of telephone call centers, Web interfaces and other automation in seeking and recertifying eligibility for benefits.

LaPorte County suit seeks to halt welfare privatization / FSSA privatization effort has led to many losing aid, plaintiffs allege

Source: By Tim Evans, Indianapolis Star (IN), August 26, 2008

Claiming Indiana’s welfare privatization drive is hurting needy Hoosiers, eight LaPorte County residents who receive assistance through the Family and Social Services Administration are asking a judge to halt its rollout in their part of Northwest Indiana.