Fire Accenture!

A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers wants to fire Accenture for its poor performance.

Sixty state representatives asked the Health and Human Services Commission today to fire the contractor in charge of processing applications for Texas’ low-cost insurance program for children and running the state’s new benefits eligibility system.

The letter written by Republican state Rep. Pat Haggerty, of El Paso, urges Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Albert Hawkins to cancel the state’s contract with Accenture and rebuild the community-based benefits system.

“Every dollar we spend on our health and human services is precious,” Haggerty said in the letter signed by 12 Republicans and 48 Democrats. “We do not have the luxury of throwing good money after bad.”

Technical and operational problems have dogged Accenture’s implementation of a new state computer system that lets people apply for benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families over the phone, online or in person.

The problems forced Hawkins to delay the system’s rollout indefinitely. Commission officials have said they may penalize the contractor for failing to meet performance goals and force it to repay the state for unexpected costs.

Their letter is here (Word doc). Believe it or not, Accenture counts its work in Texas as a success story. One can only wonder what they think a failure looks like. Thanks to HHSC Survivalist for the link.

Not everyone is on board with this, of course.

Haggerty’s letter was sent two days after 30 Republican state representatives sent a letter urging Hawkins to stay the course.

In the Monday letter, state Rep. John E. Davis, of Houston, said he and his colleagues recognize the new system has experienced problems. But, he added, that was to be expected.

“While HHSC and their contractor are working through the early challenges, we are confident they can be resolved and the new system completed to benefit both low-income Texans in need and Texas taxpayers,” Davis said in a Wednesday statement.

Perhaps if you gave some benchmarks and criteria for judging when and if Accenture turns things around, that might help. So too would an indication that you’d be willing to reconsider if those benchmarks were not reached. Otherwise, this sounds like an incipient case of Six Month Syndrome to me.

I’ve written a bunch about this ongoing fiasco. Some of the most recent stuff is here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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