Automation was justified on the grounds of efficiency. Paperwork and face-to-face interactions between benefit recipients and caseworkers were depicted as sources of possible fraud and a waste of resources and public tax dollars. In order to fix this, Mitch Daniels offered a public bid to any firm that could externalize the enrollment of public programs, which was won by IBM (Douthat 2010). Despite promises of technological expertise, the system did not deliver. The phone and online system proved too confusing for many recipients who lacked literacy and computer skills. Accusations of corruption have also been charged against Daniels and his administration, claiming that he appointed work to a firm (Affiliated Computer Services) that was also a financial donor to his campaign. Moreover, a whole scheme of perverse policies designed to cut people off from their rightful benefits caused ruin for many deserving recipients. For example, according to Eubanks (2018), the system had designed incentives for caseworkers to make them more likely to deny benefits or close cases prematurely.
In the end, the contract was canceled by Daniels who admitted to the failure of the system (Towns 2009). IBM was sued by the state government and ordered to pay hefty restitution due to the project’s fallout that imposed long wait times, lost documents, and improper rejections on millions of citizens (Indianapolis Business Journal 2018). IBM has since appealed this decision, so the case is still unsettled (Covington 2019).