Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) officials recently signed a $1.2 million agreement with a controversial private software company, according to testimony at a Joint Performance Review committee meeting today.
DHS “within the last several weeks” signed a maintenance and operations agreement with CoCentrix, a software company, that will cost taxpayers $1.2 million dollars, according to Craig Cloud, DHS’s Division of Aging and Adult Services Director.
In a report last May, the Division of Legislative Audit faulted DHS for improperly awarding CoCentrix a sole source contract. As of one year ago, CoCentrix had received over $9 million in taxpayer dollars to develop a software system to aid DHS’s Division of Aging and Adult Services in assessing client needs and care. As of last summer, CoCentrix still hadn’t finished the final product in a way that actually let DHS use the software.
CoCentrix finally completed the project in February, according to Cloud. Ironically, that’s the same month a Texas hospital announced it had filed a lawsuit against CoCentrix for allegedly failing to install new records software that it had been hired to complete. DHS has now contracted with this company for “maintenance and operation” of the software.
Cloud said today:
Within the last several weeks we negotiated a M&0 agreement to pay for maintenance and operation to the vendor that would cover this current calendar year. Within the agreement would be an option of exiting this agreement (and) reducing our fiscal liability after the end of the fiscal year. This maintenance and operation agreement actually reduces the state’s fiscal liability from five years to one year. It gives the state the opportunity to exit after the end of this year.
We wrote about all the problems DHS was having with private contracts last year. Cindy Gillespie, the recently hired DHS Director, has said better oversight of DHS contracts with private companies was one of the major priorities of her overall restructuring plan for the department.
We hope this new maintenance and operation contract turns out to be a better deal for taxpayers than CoCentrix’s previous software development contract.