States struggling with welfare reform
- By Daniel Keegan
- May 02, 2000
Social programs are suffering because state automated systems cannot support
welfare reform, according to a report from the General Accounting Office.
The report recommends that a federal interagency group be established to
help states improve the systems.
The information systems do not always fully support state and local efforts
to find recipients jobs, the report says. In addition, the systems make
it difficult to obtain information from various agencies and on individual
cases, and they cannot accurately provide program oversight.
Those shortcomings make it difficult to enforce the five-year limit on benefits,
arrange for and provide services, and respond to problems, according to
the GAO report, issued to Congress April 27. GAO surveyed 15 states and
15 localities for the report.
Furthermore, states face several obstacles to improving their systems, including
the magnitude of welfare reform, difficulties with managing information
technology projects, competition with the private sector for skilled IT
workers and complex federal funding.
Although some of those obstacles are best addressed by the states, according
to the report, the federal government could provide better assistance. The
report recommends that the secretary of the Department Health and Human
Services create a group that includes high-level federal officials from
agencies including HHS and the departments of Agriculture and Labor to identify
and address possible federal actions.