The lengthened timetable is a setback for FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob's plan to solve problems with fraud, waste and delays in awarding benefits by outsourcing the system to private vendors.
Some critics of the plan, however, have questioned whether Roob and FSSA were rushing into privatization and risked repeating other states' mistakes. North Carolina this month canceled a five-year, $171 million deal to create a new Medicaid billing system because it said the contractor, Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services Inc., failed to meet its deadlines.
Affiliated, where Roob was a vice president before taking over FSSA last year, also is part of the IBM team that's negotiating for the Indiana contract. Roob said he has no remaining financial interest in Affiliated.
Roob and FSSA began soliciting interest from IBM, Affiliated, Bermuda-based Accenture Ltd. and other companies last year and had planned to begin turning work over to the winning bidder this month. Then Daniels announced in May that he would make the decision on the contract and appointed a team of top aides from agencies besides FSSA to review the plan. He has already given them more time for the review.
The "review team" Daniels created to give the appearance that Roob is not involved in the decision-making is expected to complete its work within the next few weeks according to Daniels. "I would like to see us begin the transition, certainly, this year," Daniels said. "... Then again, it's more important to get it right than to get it quickly. That's why I had the special review, that's why I gave them an extension, and I'll give them another one if they need it."
The Governor said, "Our food stamp error rate is high, our recovery rate is terrible, and we've had fraud problems. ... So I would think that [USDA] would be pleased at the prospect of reform, but they'll take whatever time they'll take." So what the hell has Mitch Roob been doing for the past 18 months to clean this mess up--other than trying to outsource everything to private contractors?