The Buzz

February 18, 2014

STATE HOUSE: Budget makers reject DSS request for aid on long-stalled computer project

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to thebuzz@thestate.com.

A state budget panel rejected the S.C. Department of Social Services' $7.2 million request Tuesday to help install a long-delayed computer system for child support enforcement.

DSS is fighting with Hewlitt Packard, which the agency fired last year from the contract on a project that is now 16 years past a federal deadline.

The federal government has issued $115.7 million in fines to the state with South Carolina paying about 70 percent and HP paying the rest, DSS said.

The fight between HP and the state over terminating contract has continued for more than eight months, DSS officials said.

"We are trying to hold them accountable," said Katie Morgan, DSS' director of child-support enforcement.

But the legal wrangling is delaying the work, lawmakers said, and they are concerned about more than $4.5 million DSS has paid in legal fees since 2012.

"We're not interested in helping you out," House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, said about the funding request. "You made your decision, and you need to stand by you decision."

More than $127 million has been spent on the computer system so far with $47 million coming from the state and the remainder from the federal government.

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