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Rhode Island’s Entangled Relationship with Deloitte

Monday, February 20, 2017

 

Gov. Raimondo speaking at California conference sponsored by Deloitte.

The biggest technology program ever launched by the State of Rhode Island is in chaos and facing legal action. Governor Gina Raimondo has called the work of Deloitte inferior and said at last week's press conference, “We paid them a lot of money, we didn’t get what we paid for.” 

Yet, Raimondo has not fired the vendor and the relationship is a little more complicated. Raimondo just two days after the press conference blistering Deloitte’s performance for their failed implementation of the UHIP program chose to fly to California and speak at a conference in California -- sponsored by Deloitte.  

"Deloitte is not paying for any of the travel," Raimondo spokesperson David Ortiz to GoLocal on Friday. "She had already committed to be at the event, and was able to have a private conversation with the CEO of Deloitte consulting, who committed to being in regular communication with the Governor."

Tangled Web

In a column published in GoLocalProv, Robert Whitcomb, former Editor of the Providence Journal’s Editorial Page and now GoLocal Columnist wrote, “The bungled rollout of Rhode Island’s new public-benefits computer system, a launch whose primary vendor was Deloitte Consulting, raises some questions about how much governments should depend on private-sector contractors that may not understand the complexities of creating or revising systems to serve the general public.  There have been many other rather similar bungled launches by state governments, with those in Vermont, Kentucky and Oregon among the most dramatic screw-ups.”

In December, the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island (ACLU) and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ)  filed a class action lawsuit over the state’s ongoing, critical, and widespread failure to timely provide food stamp benefits to needy families due in large part to its transition to a new, and very troubled, computer system.

The lawsuit filed by ACLU argues that the “systematically inadequate and faulty statewide implementation of a new integrated computer system designed to determine food stamp eligibility continues to cause thousands of households to suffer the imminent risk of ongoing hunger as a result of being denied desperately needed assistance to help them feed their families.” 

Steve Brown of the ACLU told GoLocal on Friday that the state should expect more lawsuits being filed by his organization.

Raimondo’s Brookings Report Was Developed In Partnership with Deloitte

The recent Brookings report "RI Innovates" released in January 2016 was developed in part by Deloitte -- and identified "growth industries."

“In the fall and winter of 2015–2016, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings worked in association with Battelle Technology Partnership Practice (now TEConomy Partners, LLC) and Monitor Deloitte to advance a new competitive strategy for the state of Rhode Island," stated the report.

 “The Deloitte/Rhode Island association is a symptom. Deloitte supported the development of the State's economic development strategy, was the primary consultant for the botched $364 million UHIP, and the Governor participated in a Deloitte sponsored California conference while  suing the firm,” said Gary Sasse, former Director of Administration and Founding Director of the Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University.

“In his farewell address President Eisenhower warned about a military-industrial complex. While not completely analogous, Rhode Island needs to better understand the relation between the Raimondo Administration and corporate leaders. While there could be potential benefits from this relationship, there are also serious questions about transparency and its impact on public policy,” said Sasse.

While Raimondo’s relationship with Deloitte is complex and ever more intertwined, the initial selection of Deloitte was executed under the Administration of Lincoln Chafee.

“Sometimes hiring outside consultants to do government work can be a great big fat false economy,” wrote Whitcomb. 

 

 

UHIP Assessment Report to Governor Raimondo

 

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