Guinn says NOMADS will be reexamined after certification
The top priority for the state welfare computer system is federal certification, Gov. Kenny Guinn said Wednesday.
But Guinn made it clear that after that’s done, the controversial, expensive and heavily criticized system will get a long, hard look to see whether it’s workable or not.
“My number one focus now is getting it certified so we don’t have to return money to the federal government,” he said. “But after that, we’ve got to work to make sure our system is more simple to use, more palatable to the counties.”
The problems with the Nevada Operations Multi-Automated System focus on how it handles child support at the county level. County officials say NOMADS is a nightmare, complex and inefficient, riddled with hidden computer booby traps that can never be made to work properly. And they say it’s costing the counties huge amounts of money to use.
Guinn agreed those issues must be dealt with but said getting federal certification by the Sept. 30 deadline is critical. He said the federal government has paid more than $80 million of the $126 million that will have gone into the system by the end of this fiscal year. If Nevada were to dump the system, it would want that money back.
That is what federal officials are demanding in California, which last year tossed out its program.
“Right now, we have no alternative,” said Guinn.
Guinn’s chief of staff, Scott Scherer, said the state could face up to $30 million in fines if the system doesn’t pass certification. Nevada was already slapped with more than $3 million in fines for missing the deadline last year.
Guinn said if the state certifies on Sept. 30, Nevada could get some of that money back as well as avoid future fines.
Scherer said after certification all options are on the table. But neither he nor the governor were willing to discuss how real the possibility of junking the system is.
That’s the recommendation of Washoe District Attorney Dick Gammick as well as veteran Las Vegas Sen. Bill O’Donnell. Gammick says as soon as Nevada has that certification in hand, the state should start work on a much more modern, simpler, cheaper replacement.