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A different kind of IT system failure lawsuit

May 19, 2008 0 Comments

The ACLU is trying to bring a class action lawsuit against the state of Indiana because of problems with its recently rolled-out welfare benefits management system:

INDIANAPOLIS – Problems with Indiana’s landmark automation of welfare eligibility have cost some disabled residents food stamps and other benefits they need to survive, the American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a lawsuit that seeks class-action status.

In one case, a woman with hearing problems and other disabilities lost her Medicaid and food stamps after being told she could not meet in person with a state case worker, the lawsuit alleges. In another, a mother of two lost her food stamps and subsidized health care for her children when the tax return she provided didn’t include one attachment. . . .

Secretary Mitch Roob of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the lead defendant in the case, said the state was complying with the law in denying or eliminating benefits to clients whose applications were lacking necessary information. He said the state would seek to have the lawsuit thrown out.

Roob also said the state’s rollout of the automated system under a $1.16 billion, 10-year contract with IBM Corp., Affiliated Computer Services Inc. and other companies reached 20 additional counties in northeastern and southwestern Indiana on Monday.

The case was amended Friday in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis to include members of six households, all residents of the 12-county region where FSSA inaugurated the privatized welfare system by which clients can use the Internet, call centers and fax machines to apply for and renew benefits.

Rose said that automation creates obstacles for people with mental disorders and other disabilities, or those with limited schooling, further complicating an eligibility process with dozens of hurdles for each of Indiana’s 1.1 million welfare recipients.

Read the whole article. I will be interested in following this case.  ..bruce..

About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at

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