- Associated Press - Friday, April 28, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Members of a Rhode Island legislative committee said they were outraged after discovering the state was fined $805,000 months ago for changing a contract it had with the company overseeing its troubled new benefits system.

The U.S. Food and Nutrition Service issued the fine after the state neglected to submit a change in its contract with Deloitte Consulting for the $364 million Unified Health Infrastructure Project, known as UHIP. WPRI-TV reported that all contract amendments must be submitted to the Food and Nutrition Service for approval, and this change was not.

The House Oversight Committee on Thursday asked acting Department of Human Services Director Eric Beane during a scheduled hearing on the UHIP project why the fine wasn’t disclosed. Auditor General Dennis Hoyle brought the fine to light when he forwarded to the committee a Jan. 5 bill sent to the state by the Food and Nutrition Service, The Providence Journal reported.

Beane said his agency recently disclosed the fine to the House fiscal staff, rather than the Oversight Committee.

“There’s certainly no intent on withholding the information,” he said.

He said Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo’s administration is appealing the fine.

Deloitte recently announced it will provide the state with a $27 million credit to cover costs of the faulty rollout of the new system, which handles applications for food stamps, Medicaid benefits and other services.

The system launched in September and has since been plagued with technical problems that resulted in thousands of delays in benefits to residents. Among the fallout was the resignation of some state officials, an apology by the governor and a class-action lawsuit by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The lawsuit was settled in February with the state agreeing to provide food stamps within 30 days after an eligible person applies for them and within a week for destitute families.

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