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We’re not the only state with food stamp issues

We all know by now that Texas has had many problems with its administration of food stamps. Apparently, so have other states, according to a letter, signed by Kevin Concannon, the department’s undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, sent to state officials. Of interest to me is where he points at least some of the blame:

[The letter] specifically criticized states where private firms, rather than state workers, processed enrollment.

“We believe that the outsourcing of key … processing duties to for-profit organizations is an unwise use of state and federal resources that undermines program accountability,” Concannon wrote.

For-profit enterprises haven’t been able to process food stamp applications or recertifications quickly enough, Concannon said in the letter, in part because dividing responsibilities between the state and the enterprises complicated the process for applicants. As a result, many of those eligible are not receiving food stamps.

Anyone who has gone through a large outsourcing project in the private sector could have predicted this. These things take a long time to get right, and along the way they uncover or create all kids of issues that were not foreseen during the scoping phase, some of which never get resolved because to do so would blow the budget on the overall project. Yet the bizarre faith that privatization will always lead to lower costs and greater efficiency, often held by free-market and small-government-fetishizing conservatives who don’t have any relevant experience in the real world, persists. One wonders what it will take to shake that.

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