[T]he explosion in hunger across the state is the direct result of problems with the state's $200 million Colorado Benefits Management System, a nightmare computer-software program that has thrown food stamps, Medicaid, Old Age Pensions and other relief services into chaos since it was brought online Sept. 1.
Ed Kahn, attorney for the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, said the state's own statistics, as well as calls to the center from people seeking help, indicate the problems in processing aid applications have not eased.
"There were more applications overdue at the end of January than there were in December" when Denver District Court Judge John Coughlin gave the state until Feb. 28 to reduce the backlog by 40 percent, Kahn said.
Liz McDonough, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services, admitted as much. "We still have a considerable backlog," she said.
The old system does need to be replaced, because it is an old DOS based system that was created in the late 80's and early 90's, and has been increasingly hard to make work with contemporary computer systems that are available.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is planning on implementing Call Centers to process most of the work done in conjunction with the Food Stamp, TANF, and Medicaid programs. The problem is they are pushing this through without having tested the premises that they have based their model on, and one of them is that the TIERS system is going to save time, and require fewer people (who will be paid less than the already low wages paid to the current staff). The reality is that this program is still flawed, and it takes longer to process a case action than the old system does. They also assume that they can cut about half of our agencies staff, and possibly privatize these call centers, and still get the same or better end resulst that the current system produces. There is no reason to believe that this will turn out to be the case.
From a Slashdot thread on an ill-fated FBI software project:
Sounds just like the TIERS Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System [state.tx.us] software my agency has been trying develop. The Texas Department of Human Services, now the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, has contracted to Deloitte to develop a web based system similar to what is described in the article. $3 million a month (according to some) has been spent on this for a couple of years now and it is a HORRIBLE excuse of a system. I know case workers that are being forced to test the software that say it takes at LEAST twice as long to work a case now than it did with the old system that was developed in the 80's. This has been a boondoggle in the worst sense and any Texas taxpayer should be pissed off about it.
Eligibility for services will be done by telephone and/or the Internet. How many Texans do not have computers, Internet access or even a telephone- or still don't know how to use computers? A lot of our poor, disabled and elderly will fall through the cracks because they cannot utilize new technology. Children will lose Medicaid and will be taken to emergency rooms instead of a doctor's office. When parents cannot pay the bill, hospitals will recoup their costs from those who do pay. When parents cannot feed and provide for their children, crime will increase. Our elderly will spend money they saved for medicine on food because they could not get certified for food stamps.
The justification behind this plan is a new computer system that was supposed to roll out statewide in 2003. It was piloted in a select area. Clients in that area went months without benefits. Some are still doing without! TIERS-Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System-is not working! What will happen when offices close and the system still doesn't work?
Deloitte Consulting has a contract to develop the Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System, Ms. Seals said.
Ms. Goodman said they do use consultants who have a specific task. Either they perform it or don't get paid.
Ms. Seals said Arlene Wohlegemuth of Burleson, who sponsored HB 2292 to reorganize Health and Human Services, isn't getting support for the bill from the people in her own county. Burleson lies in both Tarrant and Johnson counties.
"It's so crazy. She's not even doing what people in her county want (the bill) to do," Ms. Seals said, noting nobody thought the bill would work this way.
Even Rep. Bryan Hughes said it's not what he voted for.
Ms. Seals said 39 counties have passed resolutions to fight HB 2292 including a county represented by the bill's author.
Ms. Seals asked to be put on the Harrison County commissioners May 25 agenda. She said Judge Wayne McWhorter has to approve it, but she hasn't gotten a response. She said she just wants them to hear what she has to say because "something's not right."
"The county's budget is $18 million. Now if something happens to us what are they (the county) going to do?" Ms. Seals said.
Ms. Goodman said HB 2292, directed the commission to look at call centers for eligibility services as a means of saving at least $389 million over the next five years. Because offices are as close as one mile apart, staffed once a week and they still pay rent, it's time to help taxpayers.
But, Ms. Seals has questions about the savings.
"We're not sure how much it'll save. We've never seen figures," Ms. Seals said. She noted the only savings they see from their point of view are employees out of a job while consultant companies are making millions.
Plus, the approximate $389 million savings is over a five-year period, "not off the top," Ms. Seals noted.
"They're not showing us this is the bottom line," she added, noting she supervises in Cass County as well and cuts will affect the staff she works with in eligibility and functional assessment.
"Everything they (commission) say is always positive and never reality," she said.
Ms. Seals said the starting costs of the Texas Integrated Eligibility Redesign System (TIERS) system alone was $160 million and it still doesn't work.
Ms. Seals said she sent two employees to Austin for training on the system in the last two months and they reported there's many errors with the system.
"They spent $160 million on the contract and issued $400,000 worth of benefits. They didn't say half of them were in error and how many people it took to fix the mistakes," Ms. Seals said.
In an e-mail, Ms. Goodman said the TIERS application is working.