Welfare told to sign contract but not given the money to pay for it

Lawmakers on Thursday told state Welfare Administrator Romaine Gilliland to sign a $10.7 million contract even though they withheld part of the money to pay for it.

The action was later rescinded after Gilliland, Health and Human Services Director Mike Willden and Director of Administration Andrew Clinger explained that not only would that violate state law, it would probably kill the project.

Welfare officials won approval from the 2009 Legislature for the project to develop and install an electronic eligibility system. They said it will increase the efficiency of the eligibility process up to 20 percent by automating much of the paperwork process involved in determining who is eligible for welfare and other benefits.

Gilliland said that would result in estimated savings of $15 million a year by reducing the number of eligibility workers by 270. His division employs about 1,000 eligibility workers.

When lawmakers on the Interim Finance Committee decided to hold back $317,804 of the funding scheduled to be spent on implementation of the system, Gilliland and Department of Administra-tion information technology chief Dave McTeer questioned whether that would be legal since statute forbids the state from entering contracts without first having the funding.

"This will reduce the number of eligibility workers by 270 and equates to a $15 million savings to the state," he said.

Fiscal staff recommended the committee approve the full $2.25 million requested to complete the $10.7 million in funding with the understanding that welfare attempt to find the $317,000 in savings elsewhere.

The vote was unanimous.

In addition, the committee approved spending $116,179 in state money and $98,403 in federal money to improve the computer program and Web site designed to account for stimulus money coming into the state of Nevada and make it easily available to citizens.


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