« Vacancy on Supreme Court 2012 - WFYI on Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard | Main | Ind. Gov't. - "Lawmakers dropping Rockport issue as session nears its end" »

Friday, March 09, 2012

Ind. Courts - Still more on: What has become of the State-IBM trial in Marion Superior Court?

Updating yesterday's ILB entry, Carrie Ritchie reports today in the Indianapolis Star, in a story headed "In court, state and IBM spar over welfare system's design." Some quotes:

The design of a failed plan to modernize Indiana's welfare system has become the hot potato at a weeks-long trial in Marion Superior Court.

At issue is whether the state still owes IBM millions for helping it create the billion-dollar system, or whether IBM should refund some of the more than $400 million the state paid.

On Thursday, IBM tried to use testimony by Earl Goode, Gov. Mitch Daniels' chief of staff, to show that the state told IBM how it wanted the system to work and that IBM simply followed the state's orders.

"The state was in complete control of the situation from day one," IBM attorney Steve McCormick said during a break in testimony. "They knew about issues that came up. They expected issues to come up. They had workers in every office. They could see what was going on." * * *

Goode, who was chairman of a committee that reviewed IBM's proposal for the project, said the committee made several suggestions on how to implement the new system. But the proposal was IBM's, he said, and the company didn't follow the state's suggestions -- including one that called for more staff members to work with people who were having trouble with the automated system or didn't want to use it.

"We really did believe that . . . we needed to have a state-of-the-art, modern technology in this part of our division of family services, but we also wanted to be very user-friendly and be very accessible to all the folks that want . . . our services," Goode said after his testimony. "The original proposal was much more technology-centric as opposed to people-centric."

Had IBM followed the state's suggestions, it would have ended up with a system similar to the hybrid one the state now uses, said attorney Peter Rusthoven, who is representing Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration in the suit.

The hybrid system, which allows people to choose whether to use an automated system or speak with a staff member, is working well, Rusthoven said.

The state will continue to present evidence and witnesses for several days. IBM's witnesses will follow. The trial is scheduled to last up to six weeks.

The lengthy bench trial is presided over by Marion Superior Court Judge David Dreyer.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 9, 2012 08:18 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts