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The state’s biggest contract is its $171 million Medicare contract. Two years ago, it put the contract out to bid and Secretary of Human Services, Carmen Hooker Odom, announced with great fanfare she was awarding it to Texas computer giant, ACS – and saving taxpayers millions.

Two years later, Secretary Hooker Odom says she is about to cancel ACS’s contract. Despite the state already paying ACS millions to put its new computer system in place, ACS has yet to process a single Medicare claim. And, when the contract is cancelled, the millions Secretary Hooker Odom has paid ACS will have been wasted.

What went wrong? How did Secretary Hooker Odom grant a $171 million contract to a company that has failed even to come close to fulfilling the contract? ACS says it’s the state’s fault.

But here’s a different speculation: Politics?

Back when the contract was awarded former state legislator, Lanier Canszler, was Ms. Hooker Odom’s Deputy Secretary. After the contract was awarded Canszler left his state job and became a consultant – to ACS.

Is there something wrong with a high state official, who works for a department that grants a $171 million contract, going to work with the company that gets the contract? Maybe not. But if the company turns out not to be able to do the work it makes you wonder.

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