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UHIP Report: System Needed More Time, More People, and More Training

PROVIDENCE, RI - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today released a complete and comprehensive analysis which details the challenges and missteps surrounding the launch of Rhode Island's new health and human services eligibility software system. Deloitte delivered Rhode Island a broken system and, as a result, the Department of Human Services, HealthSource RI, and publicly funded healthcare programs are not functioning effectively. Based on this report, the Governor has concluded that UHIP needed more time, more people, and more training before it launched.

"The challenges we've faced with UHIP have caused real, meaningful, and unacceptable hardship for many Rhode Islanders. If I had known in September what I know now, I would have never let this project go forward," said Governor Raimondo. "What's clear now is that our vendor and our agencies needed more time, more people, and more training before we turned this system on. I'm holding Deloitte accountable for failing to deliver and have taken steps to fix the system as quickly as possible. The problems with the system are not intractable, and there is a path forward. Still, the system won't be fixed overnight, and we will continue to make steady, meaningful progress over the next 12 to 18 months."

The report, drafted by Acting DHS Director Eric J. Beane, includes an action plan to improve customer service and fix the system. The action plan includes key metrics to measure and monitor success for the short, medium, and long terms.

Short Term (within three months): The State will commit the staff and focus to stop the growing number of pending applications. Additionally, Deloitte will be held accountable to execute an aggressive IT turnaround to immediately improve functionality of the child care, long-term care, and worker portals.

Medium Term (within six months): The State will hold Deloitte accountable to improve the customer experience and increase use of self-service enrollment for SNAP. Additionally, Deloitte must correct most of the remaining data conversion issues, which have caused hardship for customers and frustration for workers.

Long Term (within 12 months): Deloitte and the State will reduce the number of pending applications to a steady-state level. Additionally, Deloitte must ensure that all data conversion issues have been resolved and significantly reduce late and inaccurate payments.

As part of that action plan, Governor Raimondo and Acting Director Beane announced measures to ensure that there will be more accountability, more people, more outreach, and more training to support this project going forward.

More Accountability

The report to the Governor found that Deloitte delivered a broken system with defective functionality and incomplete interfaces. Additionally, the vendor failed to share complete information and painted too rosy a picture for key State decision makers prior to go-live.

Next Steps

Continue to withhold payment from Deloitte. The State is currently withholding more than $30 million from the vendor.

Demand a new contract with Deloitte that will tie all payments to performance-based deliverables.

Demand that Deloitte cover unanticipated costs to the State for additional personnel and other expenses incurred because of system errors.

"Rhode Islanders will not pay for a broken, incomplete software system," Raimondo said. "We won't send a penny more of our taxpayer's dollars to Deloitte until we have a new, performance-based contract and assurance that Deloitte will pay Rhode Islanders back for the additional costs we'll have to incur to fix their mistakes. I'm hopeful we can reach an agreement with Deloitte without litigation, but I am prepared and willing to protect Rhode Island taxpayers in court if our vendor doesn't step up and account for their mistakes."

More People

The report provided to the Governor found that senior leaders, including Cabinet directors and members of the Governor's staff, were not fully informed of challenges and issues during testing and prior to go live. Additionally, UHIP executive leadership did not act with the proper urgency when issues with Deloitte's system first arose in October. Lastly, the report supports Governor Raimondo's previous statements that it was a mistake to go forward with personnel restructuring and staff layoffs at DHS.

Next Steps

DHS will recall some staff members who were laid off prior to go-live and hire additional, temporary staff to improve customer service and reduce the application backlog.

Governor Raimondo will put a new leadership team in place at EOHHS. On Tuesday, EOHHS Secretary Elizabeth Roberts submitted a letter of resignation, and the Governor has appointed Anya Rader Wallack as Acting Secretary of EOHHS while a search is conducted for a permanent head of the agency. Earlier this month, Tom Callahan joined EOHHS as Associate Director of Administrative Services, and Matt Stark was assigned to EOHHS to provide project management support for the UHIP turnaround. Jennifer Wood will no longer serve as EOHHS Deputy Secretary, but she will remain at EOHHS as general counsel.

More Outreach

The report to the Governor found that Deloitte's design did not adequately include feedback and input from key stakeholders, including state employees, providers, and other end-users of the system. Specifically, the childcare portal was non-functional at the time of go-live and the long-term care system had significant errors that have exacerbated payment delays for nursing-home providers.

Next Steps

Improve outreach to clients, staff, providers, and legislators across platforms.

Create a formal advisory process and designate key staff to interact with specific advocacy and social service organizations.

Accelerate process to provide overdue payments for long-term care and childcare.

More Training

The report to the Governor found that DHS staff did not receive adequate training on UHIP from Deloitte. Specifically, staff reports that the trainings completed in Spring 2016 leading into go-live were not applicable to the actual experience of the system after it launched.

Next Steps

Demand comprehensive training plan for DHS employees, including focused training for supervisors and managers.

Create a formal process for collaborating with advocates to identify and fix technical and process issues through a monthly meeting of a "UHIP workgroup."

UHIP is Rhode Island's first meaningful eligibility software upgrade in over 30 years. The contract with Deloitte was signed and the project was started and largely designed during former Governor Lincoln Chafee's administration. In early 2015, Governor Raimondo's administration delayed the launch by a year to provide Deloitte additional time to build the promised functionality and conduct sufficient testing. In June 2016, Raimondo's administration again delayed the launch by 60 days in response to calls from the federal government to run an enhanced pilot launch of the system. Prior to go-live, Deloitte provided the administration with reports showing all major functions of the system as "green." Based on that recommendation, the state's director of information technology signed off on the system launch.

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