A $1 billion proposal to privatize the application process for welfare benefits in Indiana now has a favored candidate: a group that includes the most recent past employer of the state's social services chief.
Gov. Mitch Daniels recently confirmed that the only group left in negotiations is an IBM-led team of 10 companies that includes Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Systems, which is where Indiana Family and Social Service Administration chief Mitch Roob worked just before joining state government.
"If there is a move forward," Daniels said, "it seems certain it will be IBM." If approved, the group would collect and manage information on poor, disabled and elderly Hoosiers who apply for state welfare benefits. Currently, about 2,500 state employees make those decisions for about 1 million people.
Having just one candidate for such a large and important contract may provide fodder for critics of privatization and political foes of Daniels and Roob, although an expert on government ethics said the situation doesn't necessarily pose a conflict of interest.
The entire procurement process for this contract has been a complete joke. Everyone knows that it was preordained that ACS was going to get this contract. This project has nothing to do about improving services at FSSA; it's all about lining the pockets of political friends and associates that have aided you in the past, and will most certainly aid you in the future. When the process came under attack because of Roob's past employment with ACS, Gov. Daniels' response was simply to install a Kangaroo court to finish the job Roob had all but completed. ACS' financial windfall will come at the expense of our state's most needy citizens. So much for aiming higher.