Category Archives: Social.Services

The Struggle to Streamline / States are trying to make social and health services intake and screening more efficient. Outsourcing may not be the answer.

Source: By JONATHAN WALTERS, Governing Magazine, September 2007

Texas’ first foray into a high-profile streamlining of social and health services delivery paid off impressively: In 1993, the Lone Star state won an Innovations in American Government award for its landmark effort to knit more than a dozen separate child care programs together through a “unitary” application. Even more revolutionary, parents and guardians no longer had to travel to a state welfare office to apply for the programs in person; they could do that by phone or mail.

Fast-forward to the spring of 2007, when Texas was back in the social and health services spotlight. This time, however, instead of emerging as a model of success, the state became Exhibit A in how to engineer a multimillion-dollar meltdown.

……. The reasons offered for the meltdown are manifold; the finger-pointing in the wake of the disaster has been dizzying. But everyone involved seems to own a piece of the problem. Contractors over-promised on performance. HHSC rushed to meet deadlines before people and systems were in place and ready to work. Hundreds of state workers experienced in the complex application and eligibility process were either terminated or left state service knowing that privatization was coming. Old and new computer systems didn’t mesh, requiring vast amounts of information to be re-entered manually.

JOBS: Call centers offer large numbers of jobs

Source: Neal McNamara, Herald Bulletin (IN), September 26, 2007

Five hundred in Daleville. Some 600 to 700 in Muncie. More than 2,000 in Fishers and Castleton. And now 500 in Anderson.

With companies like IBM, Sallie Mae and now Affiliated Computer Services, call centers seem to be de rigeur in Madison and its contiguous counties.

…… But companies like IBM and Affiliated have a larger stake in the state than most companies. IBM, with help from Affiliated and other companies, is overseeing the privatization of the state’s welfare system, a Mitch Daniels initiative. Daniels asked companies interested in the privatization to create jobs for state residents. The call center in Daleville, and the one planned for Anderson, are part of that.

State still lags in processing human services benefits

Source: Janet Elliott, San Antonio Express (TX), 09/21/2007 10:56 PM CDT

Texas is still struggling with slow processing times for social service benefits and overburdened phone lines as it unwinds a failed privatization contract, health and human services officials said at a public hearing Friday.

They outlined plans for several smaller private contracts in the coming three years as the state continues transitioning to call centers where people apply over the phone for a host of state and federal benefits.

But state employees criticized the plan, saying it would be better to hire more state workers for local offices where people apply for benefits in person.

……. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is developing the next steps in the transition to a new eligibility system. In March the state ended a troubled contract with Accenture, an outsourcing company the state had hired in 2005 to operate call centers and process applications for the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Unions try to halt court privatization / Pay, benefits will be slashed in Wayne County Friend of the Court plan, unions' attorney says.

Source: Kim Kozlowski, The Detroit News (MI), Friday, September 21, 2007

The unions representing Wayne County Friend of the Court employees are making legal moves this week to halt privatization of the state’s largest court, which enforces $313.7 million in child support collections.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 25 and three locals, on Wednesday filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the Friend of the Court with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission.

The complaint alleges the administration went behind the union’s back during recent contract negotiations when it launched an effort to privatize most of the court’s operations.

AFSCME to Protest Proposed Privatization of Wayne County Friend of Court

Source: AFSCME Council 25 News Release, September 19, 2007

Albert Garrett, President of Michigan Council 25 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), AFL-CIO, issued the following statement regarding the proposal to privatize Wayne County Friend of the Court operations:

“AFSCME Locals 409, 1905 and 3309, all representing court employees, and all affiliated with Michigan AFSCME Council 25 will conduct informational picketing at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center, Woodward and Jefferson in Detroit, from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Wednesday, September 19, 2007,” stated Garrett.

“We are protesting the planned privatization of the Wayne County Friend of the Court,” continued Garrett. “Despite public opposition to the idea, Chief Judge Mary Beth Kelly has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), and has posted the RFP on the court’s website at https://www.3rdcc.org/rfp/rfp.pdf. The RFP actually calls for staffing at 133 percent of current levels. This is a clear indication that the plan will slash the wages and benefits of the workers involved, and will produce a spurious, apples-and-oranges comparison of the work accomplished by the public workers now staffing Friend of the Court, and the performance of the contractor.”

Vrakas wants private firm taking calls for agency

Source: By SCOTT WILLIAMS, Journal Sentinel (WI), Sept. 18, 2007

Seeking to trim the size of government, Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas is proposing to privatize part of the county’s child-support collection program.

Vrakas said his 2008 county budget proposal will include a plan for hiring an outside contractor to handle all incoming calls from parents, employers and other program users.

……. As an experiment, the county tried outsourcing the telephone call center this summer to Affiliated Computer Services Inc., the same firm that handles the state’s child-support calls.

County staffers now handle up to 2,000 calls a month, or about 100 a day.

Farm bill raises concern for Vermont's food stamp program

Source: By Louis Porter, Rutland Herald (VT), September 13, 2007

MONTPELIER — State officials and advocates are worried a provision in this year’s national farm bill could, if it becomes law, make it more difficult for some Vermonters to get the food stamps they need and are qualified for. A provision in the U.S. House-passed version of the bill was apparently included to limit the ability of states to privatize the administration of food stamp programs that provide grocery assistance to the poor.

…… Nationally, unions of government workers have pushed for the provision, partly in response to problems in states that have privatized their food stamp programs, in some cases with poor results, according to officials and news reports.

Labor moves to bar welfare privatization

Source: Ken Dilanian, USA TODAY, September 10, 2007

In December, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels sidestepped opposition from unions and Democrats when he signed a deal outsourcing the administration of his state’s welfare and food stamp programs to a consortium led by IBM. For organized labor, the fight didn’t end there.

In December, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels sidestepped opposition from unions and Democrats when he signed a deal outsourcing the administration of his state’s welfare and food stamp programs to a consortium led by IBM. For organized labor, the fight didn’t end there.

……….. Daniels, a Republican who was President Bush’s budget director, argued the privatization would improve services and save state taxpayers up to $1 billion over a decade. The union and other groups said it would hurt beneficiaries.

In June, at the urging of AFSCME and other groups, Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee voted to place a provision in the farm bill barring states from outsourcing the administration of food stamp programs.

FSSA Responds to Mass E-Mail

Source: InsideINdianaBusiness.com Report, September 7, 2007

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) has issued a direct response to a mass e-mail sent to employees’ work e-mail addresses, saying any response would violate state guidelines. The mass e-mail was sent September 4 by advocate and former state employee Beryl Cohen, asking workers to report on the transition to privately-run state eligibility services.

Cohen said the reports could be made anonymously at http://www.concerned citizens.org. [Ed note – that website it invalid, they may mean: http://www.concernedhoosiers.org/] In her response, FSSA General Counsel Jessaca Turner-Stults says any response would be an inappropriate use of state resources.