Ken Kusmer has a good article on Mitch Roob and the changes at the Family & Social Services Administration.
My sense before the article has been that no part of state government was more need of change than FSSA. I’m not sure that Roob’s approach is the best one, but it might be worth a try. He wants to change FSSA’s role into one of merely paying for assistance to the needy, privatizing the analysis of who qualifies and delivery of services to private contractors. At the moment, I think the problem with the approach is that Roob and the Daniels administration are the ones attempting to implement it. With the recent Richard Rhoad scandal, we’ve seen that Roob & co are not above using privatization as a pretext for padding their cronies nests while firing and cutting the compensation of frontline workers.
One of the greatest challenges to privatization, particularly in the area of social services, is the need for absolute trust that safeguards will be in place to ensure that tax dollars are being used to provide services to those in need and not to enrich those who are already well off. Mitch Roob and Richard Rhoad have violated that trust. No matter how well implemented their privatization scheme may be in reality, citizens can not feel secure that their money is being well allocated as long as those two have a role in the allocation. (And that already diminished sense of security is in no way enhanced by the fact that FSSA allowed public input into the privatization scheme only under pressure. Initially, a public hearing on the privatization contracts was not going to be held until after the contract had been awarded — similar to the process used in the Toll Road privatization. Now, the public hearing will be held 5 days before the contract is awarded. I leave it to the reader to decide how much influence public comments will have on the award of the contract.)