"They would end up sending documents to the wrong address. For phone interviews, they would end up calling the wrong phone number," he said.

Roswell said delays happened occasionally in the IBM system, but that an inadequate number of caseworkers and high demand were the primary problems.

He also pointed out that the number of applications IBM was hired to process was far higher than what Indiana estimated during contract negotiations. The FSSA requested that IBM be capable of processing 4,200 applications per month. But demand for services surged when the economy tanked. "Instead of 4,200, we ended up having to serve applications of over 10,000," Roswell said.

Barlow contested Roswell's contention that errors and delays due to IBM were minimal. Barlow said that IBM acknowledged serious problems with the system in a corrective action plan it agreed to in 2009.

"They sent an IBM team to our state. The team evaluated their system and came up with more than 200 things they needed to change," Barlow said.

The FSSA has since returned to using assigned caseworkers for welfare recipients. Roswell pointed out that deviating from that model was Indiana's idea, not a proposed solution by IBM.



Andy Opsahl  | 

Andy Opsahl is a former writer and features editor for Government Technology magazine.