Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Poor, Jobless Hit Hardest By Assistance Program Tech Glitches

New York Times report highlights how underfunded technology upgrades on the state level have left many of the neediest on hold

Lauren McCauley
As the New York Times revealed Tuesday, in the rush to modernize social service payment programs—such as food stamps, unemployment, and Medicaid—faulty websites and underfunded technology initiatives on the state level are leaving many of "the poor, the jobless and the neediest" perpetually on hold.

Untold in the media storm that has surrounded the botched Obamacare website roll-out is the broader story of how those who are seeking work or government assistance are increasingly spending "countless hours in front of buggy websites" and listening to the drone of a busy signal when they try to get through by phone.

In October, notes the Times, food stamp recipients in 17 states were unable to use their electronic cards for a day because the computer system that runs the program was down. And over the years, similar problems with systems were recorded in Georgia, Massachusetts, Texas and Colorado among other states.

The Times reports:

The problems come at a time when state legislatures are increasingly demanding efficient methods for people to apply online for aid, from food stamps to unemployment benefits.

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