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Comptroller Stops Payment On Bungled State Employee Benefits System

Susana Mendoza speaks to people attending a women's march outside the Illinois Capitol
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
Illinois Comptroller speaks at a rally outside the Illinois Captiol in this file photo from 2017.

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is suspending more than $5.7 million in payments for a mismanaged state technology contract.

The firm Morneau Schepell was part of a plan by former Gov. Bruce Rauner intended to save $500 million. It created the MyBenefits Marketplace, an online benefit management system that was also to have served  as a health insurance exchange for 450,000 state and university employees and retirees.

The savings would have come from those individuals paying significantly more money for health coverage. Instead, it has cost Illinois upwards of $27 million — with no savings.

“Part of suspending the payment is to just raise a bright red flag to say: Hey, there’s a really big problem here that needs to get checked out,“ Jamey Dunn, a spokeswoman for the comptroller, said in an interview. “We have a new administration — letting them know that this is something that needs to be looked at.”

Jordan Abudayyeh, a spokeswoman for the administration of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, says the governor will “work closely with the comptroller to ensure state resources are being used efficiently and effectively.”

Bruce Rauner
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois
NPR Illinois
Then-Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks with reporters in this file photo from November 2018. It was Rauner's final news conference as governor.

Mendoza is also ordering annual reviews for all information technology contracts. Her office says the Rauner administration repeatedly failed to hold Morneau Shepell accountable.

A recent audit noted dozens of times when Morneau Shepell failed to meet performance metrics.

That could have been considered a breach of contract, but the state’s agreement with the company failed to include such language.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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