Thursday, January 11, 2007

Roob Makes Case Against Privatization

When I read in today's Star about FSSA Secretary Mitch Roob's testimony before the House Ways & Means Committee in defense of the agency's $1.1 billion privatization agreement, I couldn't help but think that he made the best case against his own contract. The Star's Tim Evans writes:

Some questions had been submitted in advance, and E. Mitchell Roob handed each member a 1,700-page response to drive home one reason he gave for the necessity of the $1.16 billion modernization project.

FSSA staff members paraded seven crates of reports into the packed Statehouse hearing room, then distributed the reports. Each formed a stack more than 6 inches tall.

"This is illustrative of the way we do eligibility today because it is a paper-based system," Roob said. "We have asked our employees to use technology that is pre-Internet era."

So on the one hand, Roob and Daniels lament that the current system is broken because the state workers who run it are inefficient, error-prone and susceptible to fraud. And on the other hand, they provide definitive proof to lawmakers that the "paper-based" and "pre-Internet era" system which state workers are forced to use is to blame for the agency's woes. I've never heard a good explanation why the administration only favored modernization if the work was to be performed by private contractors. So in the future when the administration compares the performance of the private operators under the new privatization agreement with the results under the old, state-run program, the private operators are going to have an unfair advantage. Maybe that's why the agency refused to perform a cost-benefit analysis of the proposal in advance. If it had bothered to do that, it would not have demonstrated the $300 million savings Daniels and Robb are promising under a privately-run versus state-run system.


Anonymous said...

Roob, Al Hubbard, Mitch & that whole Quayle crowd hate government in every fashion. Unless they can profit from it.

Consistency is not their byword.

In less polite circles, it's called "situational ethics."

Or, by some, what it is, plainly and simply: greed. Full speed ahead, the public be damned.

Mortgage it, use the SBA to build your empire, find obscure but necessary govt. functions to privatize and make sure you're part of the "solution."

It's all so sickening. Not just because FSSA performs badly-needed services. But because it truly does need reforming, and Roob & Co.'s efforts simply shove back meaningful reform even further. Each side digs in, and it's warfare.

Modern-day politics at its best. Exploit and move on. God I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Anon 9:08. Millions of pages have been written about the phenomena you describe, but you say it very succinctly. Sad, but true.