Online and running smoothly

September 3, 2004
A new computer software system to run Colorado’s welfare programs debuted Wednesday with far fewer glitches than some officials feared. The system operated slowly for much of the day, creating long lines at welfare offices, but it did not drop thousands of recipients from benefit rolls as some feared it would.
The $199 million system manages welfare programs including food stamps, cash payments, worker training, adult protection and children’s health insurance. It replaces a mishmash of old database software that managed those programs. A few case records did not make the conversion Wednesday, but officials said that was expected. “These are some of the natural things that happen when you roll out a system,” said Levetta Love, who handled the transfer for El Paso County. The list of food stamp recipients, for example, transferred with one error among more than 10,000 records, Love said. Still, problems could crop up later as welfare workers review each case and people apply for new benefits. One glitch in the new system caused computers to run so slowly that state officials disconnected it for 45 minutes to make repairs. Some welfare recipients complained about long lines for service, but others said the wait was typical. “They said it’s going to be slow, but the line is going fast,” said Alejandra Rodriguez, who visited the department’s downtown Colorado Springs office to check on her 1-year-old daughter’s eligibility for Medicaid. The new software, called the Colorado Benefits Management System, was switched on in all of Colorado’s 64 counties Wednesday. It has been under development since 1995 and replaces six antiquated systems. Officials in Jefferson and Arapahoe counties also said computers were operating slowly, but there were no serious problems. “For the most part, the system is operating as we thought it would,” said Liz McDonough, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services. Once it’s in place, the Colorado Benefits Management System should deliver better service for welfare recipients and make work easier for welfare workers, said El Paso County human services chief Barbara Drake. The system analyzes information about recipients such as income, number of children and citizenship status to determine which welfare programs they’re eligible for. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0187 or
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