Democrats Blast Child Support Privatization

House Minority Leader Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto.

House Minority Leader Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto. Photo by Trip Burns.

The Mississippi Department of Human Services is rolling out a pilot program in 17 southwest Mississippi counties to outsource the legal and case-management components of its child-support enforcement program.

The Legislature recently voted to privatize child-support collections over objections of state employee groups who believe the move would cost jobs.

Through a statement to news media, DHS director Rick Berry said once the pilot project is complete, all child support enforcement offices in the state would be privatized. The switch will "displace approximately 50 full-time employees" whom would "be given all of the proper notifications and rights afforded to them under State Personnel Board rules and regulations."

"There has been a considerable amount of progress in this area over the past two years due to a departmental reorganization, the addition of a centralized call center and a new approach to collections in the outsourcing of the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). These initiatives, along with the efforts of dedicated state staff, have contributed to increased collections," Berry said in a statement.

"Even though these steps have brought about positive results, agency management does not feel that the improvements are increasing at the rate needed to provide exceptional service to our citizens. I, along with the key leadership at MDHS, and with the full support of Governor Phil Bryant, continue to explore ways to vastly improve child support services to the citizens of our state."

Berry added that a request-for-proposals is under development and that the RFP's language would strongly encourage the successful bidder to hire displaced DHS employees.

House Minority Leader Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, said privatization would not result in lower taxes.

"Anyone who attempts to convince you this is shrinking government is being disingenuous. Citizens will only see the transfer of their state tax dollars that paid the salaries of these fifty soon to be displaced workers to lawyers in Jackson that are the beneficiaries of the privatization," Moak in a press release.

“It is purely a transfer of money to those savvy enough to lobby enough votes in the legislature and governors office to make it happen for them. It is the same plan that transfers money from the state treasury to 'certain individuals' that we have seen during the entire time this administration has been in control of state government."

Moak's statement continued: "Mississippi has been led by this Republican leadership team to the highest unemployment rate in the nation, the slowest economic turnaround in the nation and has taken the illogical step of turning away 3 million dollars per day in healthcare funds to hospitals thereby forcing them to lay off workers, curtail services and in some cases close their doors."


js1976 8 years, 8 months ago

I would be willing to bet these non-goverment entities will be more efficient at collecting unpaid child support.


Sign in to comment