October 08, 2018 10:35 PM
Minnesota lawmakers told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they want answers after further delays in implementing computer software programs which are supposed to track down people who illegally receive government assistance.
The state's Information and Technology Services Department and Department of Human Services hoped to launch the new computer program by July, but both agencies said they are still testing the system to make sure it works properly for the counties using it.
State Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, chairs the House State Government Finance Committee and told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it is taking too long to implement the computer program and it is costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in lost savings.
"By the end of this year, we will see lost savings of a half-billion dollars," Anderson said. "This computer software system was supposed to be working in 2016 and then we were told it would be last July and here we are in October and it is still not working."
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Anderson said the legislature passed this plan in 2015 and gave the Department of Human Services $1.2 million to help get it started and now, she said, it hurts taxpayers, but also people who legitimately need the government assistance which is going to someone who doesn't qualify for government help.
"This is a serious amount of lost savings to the taxpayers of Minnesota," Anderson said. "But, the money would should have recouped by now could also be used for things like mental health grants, helping the elderly and even our K-12 education system."
MNIT declined KSTP's request for an interview and referred questions to the Department of Human Services. DHS did not grant an interview but issued this statement instead:
"Our field testing of the periodic data matching system – currently under way with MNIT and counties –is intended to ensure the it system works properly and in accordance with federal and state law. The last thing we wanted to do was implement this program requirement across Minnesota before the counties and the state were ready to do it right."
Anderson said she will have the commissioners of MNIT and DHS called before her committee in January to answer more questions if the problem persists into the new year.
Updated: October 08, 2018 10:35 PM
Created: October 08, 2018 09:25 PM
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