States struggle with welfare reform
- By Daniel Keegan
- Jun 05, 2000
Social programs are suffering because state automated systems cannot support
welfare reform, according to a report from the U.S. 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 said. 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 of Health and Human
Services convene a group of high-level federal officials from agencies including
HHS and the departments of Agriculture and Labor to identify and address
possible federal actions.