Welfare Reform

"Welfare reform will be a major test as to whether

by , / January 31, 1997
According to Thomas Guevara, assistant secretary and CIO of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Welfare reform is a trial by fire of local government. "Welfare reform will be a major test," he said, "as to whether public assistance can be effectively provided at the local level, and whether communities are able to take responsibility for their citizens."
The test will be formidable. Larry Singer, research fellow with Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said in the January issue of Government Technology that reform "replaces AFDC with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, places time limits on assistance, and, in most cases, requires work in exchange for benefits. The government programs to be reformed," he explained, "have annual expenditures of over one-third of a trillion dollars."
In this section, Guevara, Singer and five other experts answer our questions on how passage of the "Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996," will affect state and local government agencies, information systems and staff.


Question 1:

What do you see as the greatest potential danger or opportunity of welfare reform as enacted?

Question 2:

Is any current state's welfare reform program a model for other states to emulate?

Question 3:

What effects will reform have on state and local governments' deployment of information technology?

Question 4:

How will welfare reform affect ongoing human services IT projects such as SACWIS and child support enforcement applications?

Question 5:

Do you expect a net benefit or loss of categorical "enhanced" federal funding for state IT human services systems? Why?

Question 6:

How will welfare reform change the role of systems integrators and other private-sector IT vendors?

Question 7:

What should be the role of public-sector IT leaders in developing federally mandated human services plans?

Question 8:

Do you think welfare reform will lead to a national/ centralized database to verify eligibility? If so, who should maintain it?

Question 9:

What technology or policy innovations might be stimulated by reform?

Question 10:

What result would best indicate to you the success or failure of welfare reform? What do you predict will happen?

Ann Buchanan
is vice president of Unisys Corp.'s Public Sector Social Services Practice. Her organization consists of 250+ professionals, many of whom have extensive experience managing state government human services programs. The practice also includes consultants with expertise in designing and implementing automated human services systems. She has held various positions in sales and marketing in her 15-year career at Unisys, many of which were involved with public sector human service agencies.

Bradley S. Dugger
is chief of information systems for the state of Tennessee, and a former president of the National Association of State Information Resource Executives. His interest in welfare reform activities comes under two categories: 1. Timely implementation of systems, and 2. Models for future federal grant activities. The role of his division is to ensure that the technical resources and needs of the department are met, and that the projects put forth by the departments are cost-effective and open to all state departments.

Thomas Guevara
is assistant secretary and CIO of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which is responsible for implementing the state's welfare reform efforts. As CIO, he and his staff are responsible for determining the impacts of welfare reform with respect to determining data reporting requirements, determining information that must be shared with other programs and agencies, and developing computer systems to support welfare reform changes. In order to do his job effectively, he considers it a must to be able to understand the effects welfare reform has on program administration, state finances, and the current systems used to administer Indiana's welfare program.

Larry J. Singer
is a research fellow in the Strategic Computing and Telecommunication Program at Harvard's JFK School of Government. He is currently involved in the welfare reform effort from three perspectives:

Working with the Annie E. Casey Foundation to support the Governor's Task Force on Human Services Reform in Illinois. He is also working with government and community leaders planning for utilization of IT in consolidating functions and organizations to effect more positive outcomes for human services participants in Illinois.
Leading the development of a workshop at Harvard scheduled for March 20-21 to address implementation issues associated with welfare reform in states and localities.
Writing on issues related to welfare reform for Government Technology magazine.

Bob Stauffer
served for 16 years as director of the Division of State Systems Approvals for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and played a key role in defining and managing the certification of automated systems in support of human services programs including public assistance, JOBS, electronic benefits transfer, child care and child welfare.

Stauffer is now director of Human Services Marketing for EDS State and Local Government. Throughout his career at EDS, he has focused on social welfare from the regional, federal and vendor community perspectives. He has been integral to the Texas Department of Human Services/EDS partnership, which is exploring opportunities to restructure and integrate eligibility processes for multiple programs across the state. He is also assisting several states to meet the effects of welfare reform on existing infrastructures and in defining future information processing needs. He is enthusiastic about the benefits and opportunities that can arise out of collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors, and champions the need to involve all stakeholders to successfully accomplish welfare reform.

Costis Toregas
is president of Public Technology Inc. (PTI), the nonprofit technology organization of the most progressive and entrepreneurial local governments in the United States. He is involved with creating and advancing technology-based products, services and enterprises for all cities and counties. PTI utilizes partnerships with private industry to respond to market forces and introduce these technologies to the public sector.

Jack Tweedie
is program manager in the Children and Families Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and is that organization's state welfare policy specialist. His primary responsibilities involve working with state legislators and staff in their consideration and implementation of welfare reform. He focuses particularly on the critical questions involved in transforming welfare into a work-based system. The NCSL maintains a Web site on welfare reform located at .

[ February Table of Contents]