NUVO’s Austin Considine* wrote an interesting article regarding the Mayor’s pick for the proposed parking system – Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS). In addition to concerns related to ACS’s ties to Republican leadership in the state and a few privacy blunders, one sticky past project of ACS is causing concern among critics. Given the long-term nature of this contract, it’s a good time to consider the Mayor’s choice with care and seriousness.
Remember when the Indiana government contracted with IBM and ACS to privatize aspects of the Family and Social Services Administration functions for the state? If you do, you probably also remember that many Hoosiers had to deal with long delays, mishandled food stamp cases, delayed disability payments and other not-terribly-efficient practices that privatization is normally designed to eliminate. (As someone who works in social services, I can attest that the myriad problems with this contract were apparent for some time before action was taken.) While IBM received most of the public blame-and-shame (in addition to the Daniels administration) for this situation, ACS was a partner in the deal, a partner with close ties to a public official involved in establishing and maintaining the contracts. You can find much more detail on these concerns in NUVO.
That said, according to the Mayor’s office, ACS has a strong history of managing city parking systems. Even if this is the case, with a 50-year contract in front of the city, this is a good time to be asking some challenging questions. The Mayor has spoken a great deal on the transparency involved in this parking proposal process, but it would be comforting to know that ACS has the same operational goal.
(*In an effort to maintain my own transparency, Austin Considine is a friend.)