GAO: Systems don't support state welfare programs

GAO: Systems don't support state welfare programs

A majority of state welfare administrators surveyed by the General Accounting Office reported that the systems they use provide half or less of the information they need to function effectively.

The congressional watchdog agency surveyed the state human services administrators as part of its oversight of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program under the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. The law heightened the importance of moving welfare recipients into jobs and established a five-year lifetime limit on TANF eligibility.

The GAO report laid at least part of the blame on stovepiped systems and obsolete equipment. The report said the administrators 'are missing information, in part, because some of the systems used by agencies that serve TANF recipients do not share data on these recipients, which constrains the ability of case managers to arrange and monitor the delivery of services.'

GAO also said many states are using large, mainframe systems that are old and cannot be easily modified to use innovative technology. 'These innovations, such as Internet-based technologies, offer significant opportunities for improving the delivery of human services,' GAO said in its report, number GAO-02-121.

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