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In a story that sounds strangely familiar to Ontario social services workers, the state of Texas has ended a contract with Accenture. Though privatization was supposed to save the state money and improve services for families, thousands of the most vulnerable Texans were wrongly denied benefits and the state didn’t save a dime.

Accenture signed a deal to replace many welfare offices with privately run call centers – a deal riddled with unrealistic deadlines, budget cuts, stumbles by the contractor, a flawed public education campaign and mishaps with government-purchased computer software.

Accenture executive Dave McCurley testified to a government committee that software-related “inefficiencies” and an unexpectedly high number of calls pouring into the call centers early last year “combined to effectively break the camel’s back.”

At the same time Alec Davis, a state employee who has been an eligibility screener for 14 years and works at an Austin call center, said he has seen private contractor employees make less than conscientious efforts to help aid applicants. “The job done over the years by the state workers has been a lot better than they give us credit for,” he said.

With files from AFSCME