The governor of Indiana expelled IBM from the State’s welfare privatization program last week. (
Indiana axes welfare contract with IBM,, Indianapolis Star, 16 October 2009.) This took everyone by surprise. Nobody thought the governor would cancel the contract with IBM, no matter how crappy a job it was doing.
The Indiana welfare program was bad enough when the State was running it. Under IBM it had become bad in a different way, with scores of eligible people falling through the cracks, and others accusing the Governor of engineering those cracks to save money.
I, too, was surprise that the governor axed IBM, but not for the same reason others were. I had expected IBM, who was no doubt not making as much money from the deal as it would like, to bolt first. IBM has a habit of
bidding contracts too low to make a profit then mismanaging them in an attempt to make a profit anyway, often to the detriment of IBM customers, here being the thousands of Hoosiers who need assistance in some way. Again, I had expected IBM to bolt first, as it has bolted from any contract that does not produce even a penny of profit for IBM.
It is possible that the governor had sensed before anyone else did, that IBM was not worth the pain it was causing both the citizens of the State and his own political future. It is possible that he caught wind of the arrest of one of IBM’s more important executives, who was in charge of dumping American jobs and outsourcing them to India and Argentina. Read Cringely’s No Joy in Mudville for more.
I do not know (and right now few people know) how this will all work out. My brother Bill got the raw end of the IBM stick when the peculiar way he pays alimony (because his ex-wife was so impatient to get it) would not conform to the IBM way of doing things. And I have a fellow member of the local library board (who invited her to serve a full four-year term) who works for one of the subcontractors out of a concrete box on a hill just east of Marion. What effect this will have on the Bill’s payments, or on my fellow board member’s job, is for now an annoying mystery.