Up to now, the blame attaching to the administration of Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo for Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) failures was mitigated by the fact that its implementation and many of the related decisions predated her time in office and, as Kathy Gregg notes, because an outside contractor was responsible for the work. But this news raises questions about the ability of Rhode Island’s current governor to manage the state and its projects:
The Raimondo administration ignored strongly worded warnings from the federal government that its new $364-million benefits system wasn’t ready to launch last month, and officials put federal funding at risk by going ahead anyway, Target 12 has learned.
Reading the letters available through Target 12, it’s clear the federal government’s concerns were broad of scope, from criticism of an inadequate method of testing the new system to concerns that new staff intended to help with the roll-out had very little time for training and preparation.
Another matter that the letters bring to light is the degree of help that the Raimondo administration has had at its disposal. Not only has it utilized an outside contractor to put the system together, but the federal government is clearly available to help in a detailed, hands-on way. Where the state government had influence — in making decisions, such as the decision to go forward with implementation — it failed.
Making matters worse is the evidence of how the Raimondo administration handles its other core responsibility (other than actually running government): communicating with the public. Gregg points out that the Raimondo administration strove to keep these letters (and who knows what additional embarrassing information) from the Providence Journal. Even now, the administration is spinning more than clarifying. From the Target 12 link:
Brenna McCabe, a spokeswoman for the R.I. Department of Administration, reiterated that point in a statement on the federal letters, telling Target 12: “As you will see … FNS expressed concerns with the state’s plans, but at no time did they instruct us to stop the launch of the system on Sept. 13.”
The language of the letters is so strong that one would have to say the federal agents were all but telling the state to delay the project. With this spin, the Raimondo administration is like an 18-year-old girl attempting to deflect blame for some disaster because her parents only warned her in the strongest terms that what she was planning to do was a very bad idea.