Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's to all my fellow HHSC employees and everyone else who comes around this blog.....hope you have a very happy safe RELAXING Thanksgiving!

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Email to employees........Good Luck Williamson County

As you know, we have been evaluating the possibility of converting additional cases to TIERS. This will allow us to continue to move cases to a modern, upgraded system while work continues on improvements to the larger integrated eligibility system. Earlier this week, we completed the final readiness assessments and determined that we are ready to convert clients at our two Williamson County offices to the new computer system.
We selected Williamson County for this conversion because 25 percent of the clients in those offices already are on TIERS, and many of the workers have experience using the new system. ART workers will fill in at the Williamson County  offices while the rest of the staff receives training. In addition, ART workers will be on hand to assist with the transition.
The actual case conversion will take place over the weekend. As part of the conversion process, each case is examined to ensure that the benefits calculation in the new system matches the previous calculation to the penny. A team of 19 ART workers will review any cases that do not match exactly and resolve any issues before cutoff next month.
We’ll begin processing all new cases in TIERS on Monday. The transition should be seamless for clients, and state workers will continue to process all cases. The conversion will provide Williamson County clients with the ability to check the status of their case by phone or apply online.
If you have questions or concerns, please let your supervisor know. One of the keys to any computer conversion is to identify and address issues quickly. You are on the front lines, and we need and value your input to make the transition successful.
Thank you for all your hard work and your commitment to our clients.
Anne Heiligenstein
Deputy Executive Commissioner for Social Services

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Houston Chronicle Article.......leave your thoughts in the comments

Software glitch snarls state's checks for fraud
Audit's findings add to concerns of inadequate staffing at public assistance call centers

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More information

A couple of posts down, the letter from Brent Connett is posted- and in comments, an anonymous commentor did some research (thanks!) and came up with the following:

When you google Brent Connett and see that he is a "policy analyst" for the
Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, it all is clear. One would
think that the definition of a conservative is a person who abhors waste of tax
dollars, yet here we have a "conservative" who will support a global profiteer
like Accenture even as tax dollars are drained away from the tax payers and from
the poor people we are supposed to be serving. It just shows how hypocritical
they are. We know Accenture is profiting even as they delay and incorrectly
providing federal benefits. It's just nuts.

I was checking some more on Brent Connett and see that his boss at the TCCRI is Tom Delay's indicted buddy John Colyandro. A little more looking and guess what? The TCCRI was instrumental in writing HB2292 for Arlene Wohlgemuth who was (I am not sure if she still is) on the board of directors for them. In 2003 she wrote a big old thank you to them for being so instrumental in providing the framework for 2292. So it makes sense that they get a little defensive when the facts get in the way of their little masterpiece.

I just thought that tidbit of info was interesting enough to post in case anyone missed the comments.

CPPP article

Off the Kuff gives a good synopsis of it.......

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Albert Hawkins gives HIS spin on recent allegations and questions regarding his ethics....

This following was posted on the Employee Intranet on November 6th. Spin in Mr. Hawkins. Spin it.

Staying Focused on Our Work

Recent media stories have reported that gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell
has filed an ethics complaint against me. I want to assure you that any
allegations of corruption or misconduct are utterly without merit. Perhaps
the explanation of the circumstances below will establish some

When I became HHSC Commissioner in 2003, I was asked to assume the post
held by the two previous HHSC Commissioners on the board of the Texas
Health Institute. The Texas Health Institute is a non-profit organization
devoted to health policy research. I considered the position to be
honorary and agreed. I think that it is important to note that I have
never attended a meeting of the board, never participated in any board action
and never exercised any fiduciary duty on behalf of the board or the
Institute. I have received no financial benefit of any kind and have no
financial ties to the Institute. Unfortunately, because I never considered
this post as anything other than honorary, I overlooked it when I filed my
personal financial statement with the state Ethics Commission. I have
submitted a corrected statement.

While the Institute has received a competively awarded contract
through the Department of State Health Services, I had no prior knowledge of or
involvement in the procurement or contracting decision at State Health

While this is clearly a personal distraction, I do not want it to detract
from the work you perform for the people of this state. I remain focused on
taking care of the business of this agency, the HHS enterprise and the State of
Texas .

Albert Hawkins — Nov. 6, 2006

Few new things of interest.....

Welch goes from comptroller's office to HHSC

Texas Weekly11/10/2006

Ken Welch, the funds management guru at the comptroller's office (the guy who actually does know where all the state's money is at any given time), left that agency for the Health and Human Services Commission, where he's the new budget and fiscal policy director.
Letters: No horror story on CHIP

THE Chronicle's gratuitous insults directed at the state's effort to modernize its social service eligibility system and the company that won the bid to help with that process, Accenture, should be retracted(see the Oct. 29 editorial "Horror story").

Ever since the overhauling of the system began, the Texas StateEmployees Union has led the effort to derail the program and to undo the social service reforms passed by the 78th Legislature. Part of its strategy has involved tarring the reputation of the firm that is helping the state implement the new system. And now the Chronicle appears to have bought into the misguided efforts of TSEU, referring to Accenture as "Bermuda-based," as if where it was incorporated has any bearing on its work for the state *doesn't it? Why would taxpaying Texans want a company based in BERMUDA (because they ARE based in Bermuda) taking care of the poor in Texas? Why else, other than make a profit on the poor, would Accenture even WANT this job?*. In fact, Accenture employs 27,000 people domestically, including more than 3,000 in Texas , and pays federal and state taxes. The editorial tossed a vile canard at the company by calling it "aspin-off of disgraced Arthur Andersen," even though Accenture was incorporated more than a decade before Andersen's implosion. In covering the eligibility system and the Children's Health InsuranceProgram, the Chronicle pushes anecdotal accounts of processing errors as the main cause of declines in the size of CHIP, when, in fact, the following are the leading reasons for CHIP disenroll-ment (based on October 2006 data available on the Health and Human Service's Website):

"45 percent didn't return renewal packet" *packets they never got? packets they received and turned in more than once? Hmmmm.*
"19 percent exceeded CHIP income limits"
"17 percent were Medicaid eligible"
"11 percent didn't pay the renewal fee" *renewal fees that clients never got a notice about until AFTER the fee was due and the case was already closed?*
"5 percent aged out of the program

The Chronicle would do well to leave off the wild allegations and join an essential program to bring Texas ' social services into the 21stcentury.

BRENT CONNETT Austin *Do you work for Accenture?*

Thursday, November 02, 2006

TSEU Broadcast Email



Last year the Texas Legislature passed HB 1516, which authorizes the consolidation and privatization of the information technology (IT)/data center departments of 27 state agencies.

The plan will merge much of the IT functions ofthe agencies into one or two data centers, one of which must be located in SanAngelo, and then contract out operation of the data center(s) to a private contractor. This plan will be yet another high-tech boondoggle, like the Accenture/eligibility services and the Convergys/AccessHR projects that have wasted vast sums of money and reduced the ability of state agencies to fulfill their missions. Over 500 agency positions are due to be eliminated or transferred to a contractor under this proposal. A list of the agencies to be affected follows, below the list of DIR Board members. According to the current schedule, a contractor is to be selected in December2006. This date would make it much for difficult for the Texas Legislature to look at this plan again. Many suspect that the date was chosen to make this plan a "done deal" before the Legislature has a chance to reconsider it.

TSEU believes that our recent experience with high-tech outsourcing contracts should be a warning, and that this plan should be cancelled. At a bare minimum, the speeded-up implementation should be slowed down to allow the Texas Legislatureto reconsider the plan. Several legislators have expressed these concerns, and have suggested that, at a minimum the implementation schedule should be slowed downto give the Texas Legislature a chance to look at it again. Rep. Jim Pitts, of Waxahachie, is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

He would have the power to call for a slowdown in the roll-out of this plan.

TIME IS CRITICAL: DIR is scheduled to select a contractor in December.

TAKE ACTION TODAY to save tax dollars, quality services, and state jobs.

Slow down the headlong rush into another boondoggle that will put millions of tax dollars, and the operating efficiency of 27 state agencies, at risk.

1. Get involved. Contact Mike Gross at TSEU (, or (512)448-4225)

2. Get state agency IT employees involved. Do you know a state worker in anagency IT/Data Services department? Have them contact TSEU to get involved

3. Call your state legislator ASAP. Ask him/her to: A. Contact Rep. Jim Pitts, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and askhim to call for a delay in the roll-out of this plan. B. Contact Governor Perry. Ask him to direct that the plan be delayed. C. Contact members of the DIR Board and ask them to call for a more thorough analysis of this project, and a delay in the roll-out schedule to allow legislative review.

For information on how to contact your legislator, go this link on the TSEUwebsite:

William L. Transier, DIR Board Chair Co-Chief Executive Officer, DirectorEndeavour International Corporation, HoustonTerm: 02/01/2003 to 02/01/2009, Appointed by the Governor

The Honorable Charles Bacarisse Harris County District ClerkHarris County, Houston Term: 07/17/2006 to 02/01/2007, Appointed by the Governor

M. Adam Mahmood, Ph.D.Professor of Computer Information Systems & Business AdministrationThe University of Texas at El Paso, El PasoTerm: 02/01/2001 to 02/01/2007, Appointed by the Governor

The Honorable Debra McCartt MayorCity of AmarilloTerm: 02/01/2006 to 02/01/2011, Appointed by the Governor

P. Keith Morrow CIO & Vice President of Information Systems 7-Eleven, Inc., DallasTerm: 03/07/2005 to 02/01/2011, Appointed by the Governor

Cliff P. MountainManaging MemberAccent Capital, LLC, Austin Term: 02/01/2003 to 02/01/2009, Appointed by the Governor

Bill Wachel Principal/Owner The Wachel Group, DallasTerm: 02/01/2003 to 02/01/2009, Appointed by the Governor

Robert L. Cook Executive Director Texas Parks and Wildlife DepartmentTerm: 02/01/2005 to 02/01/2007, Ex officio

Brad Livingston Executive Director Texas Department of Criminal JusticeTerm: 02/01/2005 to 02/01/2007, Ex officio

Adam Jones Associate Commissioner for Operations and Fiscal Management Texas Education AgencyTerm: 02/01/2005 to 02/01/2007, Ex officio


Department of Criminal Justice
Department of Information Services
Department of Licensing and Regulation
Department of Public SafetyGeneral Land OfficeDept. of Aging and Disability Services (DADS)Dept. of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)
Dept. of Family and Protective Services (DFPS)
Dept. of State Health Services (DSHS)
Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC)
Office the Attorney General
Public Utility Commission
Railroad Commission
Secretary of State Alcoholic Beverage Commission
Building and Procurement Commission
Commission on Environmental Quality
Dept. of AgricultureDept. of Insurance
Dept. of Transportation
Texas Education Agency Higher Education
Coordinating Board Parks and Wildlife
Library and Archives Commission
Workforce Commission
Youth Commission
Water Development Board

Today's News

Bell files ethics complaint against Perry appointee