Raimondo’s UHIP Disaster - Federal Court Takes Over Management

Friday, November 03, 2017


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Governor Gina Raimondo

For the past year, the Rhode Island ACLU has been pressing Governor Gina Raimondo’s administration to correct the failed process for Rhode Island’s most in need to apply for and receive food stamps.

The Raimondo administration has given every possible reaction to criticism that the system failed to function.

When the UHIP platform launched and it was clear that the system did not function, Raimondo defended the botched rollout in the fall of 2016, saying in an interview on talk radio that even Apple has problems when they roll out a new phone.

Now, after a year of failure and promises of improvement, and more failure, Federal Court Judge Will Smith has determined that the Raimondo administration is incapable of managing the project.

Rhode Island ACLU Executive Director Steve Brown spoke to the most recent development in addressing the state's UHIP debacle -- the announcement of a court-appointed special master to intervene.

The Raimondo administration recently boasted of recovering $60 million from vendor Deloitte -- but Brown took issue with the announcement. 

"What was troubling about the news release bragging about getting all the money, was buried in the release was the thousands of buried applications. And it was troubling,” said Brown.

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Smith and Sherman Former Law Partners

Judge Smith has approved his former law partner Deming Sherman to serve as Special Master to oversee the operation of UHIP. Both Smith and Sherman were partners at the Providence law firm Edwards & Angell and now after a series of mergers the firm is named Locke Lord.

Locke Lord does extensive legal work for Deloitte, but in an email to GoLocal Sherman claims there is no conflict.

“Note that I am being appointed as an individual, not as an attorney with Locke Lord," said Sherman. "Also, as I disclosed to the Court, I no longer have a financial interest in Locke Lord other than two payments due me in December on account of my retirement from the firm.  Once I receive those payments, I will have severed all ties with Locke Lord.”

How Much Will Sherman Be Paid?

Sherman said his hourly rate has not been determined. "While I do expect to be paid, and the Order of appointment provides for that, the hourly rate has not yet been set by the court.  I need to submit a budget and a proposal, which I will do once I have a better feel for this project. The Court has complete discretion in this,” said Sherman.

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UHIP Hearing at RI State House earlier in 2017

Raimondo Reacts to Court’s Decision

"When Deloitte started working with the previous administration back in 2012, they promised Rhode Islanders they would deliver a well-functioning system. More than a year after it launched, Deloitte’s Rhode Island Bridges [UHIP] systems has proven time and again to be error-prone, and it’s causing real hardship for many Rhode Islanders,” said Raimondo.

Raimondo makes clear that the initial contract with Deloitte was executed by then-Governor Lincoln Chafee. And, Smith has deep Chafee roots. He served as then-Mayor of Warwick Chafee’s legal counsel and was nominated to the federal judgeship by Chafee in 2002.

"As soon as I was made aware of the scope of the Deloitte system’s problems, I made changes in state leadership and put measures in place to hold Deloitte accountable. We’ve recovered more than $85 million from Deloitte in credits and the vendor has given the State a blank check to cover any federal fines that will result from their broken system," said Raimondo. "I support and appreciate Judge Smith’s decision to appoint a Special Master to help us get this system working and deliver the services Rhode Islanders are counting on."


Related Slideshow: UHIP Assessment Report to Governor Raimondo


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