The Norman Transcript

Headlines

October 31, 2013

Oklahoma’s Safety-Net payment system scrutinized

NORMAN — In recent years, at least three Oklahoma agencies have mostly stopped mailing checks for welfare and other safety-net aid to the poor, the elderly and the unemployed.

The state also has stopped sending checks for income tax returns and child support payments.

Instead, the agencies have handed off the services at no cost to an outside company — Affiliated Computer Services, a subsidiary of Xerox Corp. Instead of checks, the company sends recipients pre-paid debit cards loaded with the value of the state benefits or refunds. Recipients can opt out of the debit card and receive a direct deposit of the funds in their bank account.

The state is saving millions of dollars a year by outsourcing the function. But some lawmakers believe that the state also has effectively shifted a lot of expenses for delivering public-aid benefits to the people who receive them.

The reason is an unknown number of cardholders are using ATM machines, and thus paying fees, to access their welfare payments, child support payments and other benefits or their income tax returns. The ability to charge fees is in ACS’ contracts with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission and the Oklahoma Office of the State Treasurer.

How much Oklahomans are paying in fees is unclear. ACS is not required to disclose the numbers.

That caused state Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, to introduce legislation last session that would require ACS or other companies that issue such cards to disclose how much in card fees individuals were charged.

Inman said he introduced the bill after hearing complaints from constituents about being charged fees to get income-tax refunds.

“The agencies are saving millions of dollars, but I’m not sure the taxpayers are saving millions of dollars,” Inman said at a hearing last year on the issue.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Tornado Repair Oklahoma officials account for $9.4M in disaster spending

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Nearly a year after deadly tornadoes hit central Oklahoma, officials announced that they have spent close to $9.4 million in private donations on relief efforts....

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Moore schools receive $500K

    As Mickey Davis addressed the auditorium, the picture of a bright-eyed, happy 8-year-old on the podium in front of her could not be ignored. Davis’ son, Kyle Davis, was one of seven who lost their lives in the May 2013 tornadoes at Plaza ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Man arraigned after wife’s death

    A judge on Wednesday denied bond for a 37-year-old Norman man formally charged with stabbing his wife to death with a kitchen knife early Saturday morning in their southeast Norman apartment. Abid Sandhu, 37, was arraigned before Special ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Earth Day activities continue this week

    Oklahoma is no stranger to extreme weather, but many say those extremes are even greater than before. Norman resident and biologist Kathy Rand is convinced those climate irregularities are a result of climate change caused by pollution, ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Oklahoma court rejects death-row inmates’ claims

    Oklahoma court rejects death-row inmates’ claims OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected claims by two death row inmates that they’re entitled to know the source of the drugs that will be used to kill them....

    April 24, 2014

  • School to present ‘Hamlet’

    To be or not to be? That is the question Norman North High School students are answering during their production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” this week....

    April 24, 2014

  • Historic house celebrates centennial

    When Fredrick Holmberg arrived in Norman more than 100 years ago, he tucked his violin beneath his arm and headed for the University of Oklahoma campus.  A century later, another violinist, Cindy Zhang, will perform at the home Holmberg ...

    April 24, 2014

  • Dorman wants bipartisan appeal

    Rep. Joe Dorman said he’s proud to be a Democrat running for governor, but he hopes to garner bipartisan support. In a visit Wednesday to the Transcript, Dorman said, if elected, he wants to work across party lines like former Gove. Henry ...

    April 24, 2014

  • ‘Frozen’ to air Friday

    Movies on Main in Blanchard will host a showing of “Frozen” at 8 p.m. Friday. The evening will include hot dogs, chips, drinks, popcorn and free movie merchandise....

    April 24, 2014

  • Safety Town registration begins Saturday

    Saturday marks the beginning of registration for Safety Town classes at Sooner Mall. Safety Town, a 37-year Norman tradition, teaches children, ages 5 and 6, the importance of bicycle, fire and personal safety. Classes are 50 minutes long ...

    April 24, 2014

Video
Facebook