State delays rollout of system to prevent fraud

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state has again delayed implementation of a $135 million computer system designed to prevent fraud and improve efficiency in applications for social services.

The Kansas Eligibility and Enforcement System will bring together enrollments for all programs in the federal-state Medicaid partnership.

The state contracted global consulting firm Accenture in 2011 to implement the system, and it was originally scheduled to go online Oct. 1, 2013. A pilot program last month persuaded the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to delay the program again and no specific date has been set for implementation, said Sara Belfry, spokeswoman for the department.

Belfry told The Topeka Capital-Journal that Accenture, KDHE and the Department for Children and Families will “continue working toward the most successful rollout possible” by providing more system testing and more training for state employees who will use the software.

Startup costs for the project were $85 million, with $60 million from the federal government, and then an additional $10 million per year for five years in maintenance costs.

The first phase of the program, which allows Kansans to apply for the state’s managed care Medicare program KanCare, has been in use since July 2012.

“We estimate the new enhancements will be ready later this year,” Belfry said.

Sen. Tom Holland, who is an IT consultant, said he had been skeptical of earlier go-live dates.

“I kind of got the impression that maybe the scope of the project was underestimated,” said Holland, a Baldwin City Democrat.

Rep. John Rubin said he was concerned about Accenture, which shortly after signing the Kansas contract agreed to pay $63 million to settle a U.S. Department of Justice case accusing the company of fraudulently increasing prices and manipulating bids on government contracts.

“I will tell you that I’m not surprised,” Rubin, a Shawnee Republican, said Tuesday when told of the latest delay. “This was predicted when the contract was awarded because of the past track record of Accenture.”

An Accenture spokesman deferred all questions to Belfry, who said no penalties have been levelled against Accenture for the delays.

It’s not the first computer rollout that has caused the state problems. When the Department of Revenue contracted with 3M to replace its Division of Motor Vehicles system in 2012, several counties faced problems that caused long lines for driver’s licenses and other services.

Holland said he suspects the state is trying to avoid a similar debacle.

“It’s just another large government IT project that probably spun out of control,” Holland said.

 

 

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