A US firm lobbied the Department of Social Protection weeks before an employment services tender was released

A US firm that has come under fire for its handling of welfare schemes in America met with the Department of Welfare weeks before a local employment services tender was announced.

Documents communicated to Irish Examiner under freedom of information legislation show that a Maximus representative expressed the company’s interest in getting involved in public schemes to get job seekers back to work in early November and then been invited to an information seminar on 9 November.

Just over two weeks later, a company representative emailed a senior department officer saying they had “taken the liberty of emailing directly” because the company was “eager” to get involved in the €168 million projects, which went out to tender. December 21.

A meeting between the two was later arranged for December 9, but no records were released regarding the content of the meetings.

Maximus in the United States

Maximus, which currently has operations in Italy, Sweden and the UK – where it provides employment support services on behalf of the UK and Scottish governments – has come under fire in the US for its practices. In the United States, the company is responsible for administering a range of government plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, as well as working with the United States military.

A report released last month by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) accused the company of sloppy student loan management and unfair debt collection practices, which the company strongly denied. in the American media.

A previous CWA report alleged that breaches in the performance of a Kansas Medicaid contract “caused harm to Kansans and health care providers, particularly the elderly and nursing homes” and that Maximus had “admitted to causing the District of Columbia to submit undocumented Medicaid claims for foster care services, leading to a significant Medicaid fraud settlement with the Department of Justice.”

A Maximus spokesperson has confirmed that the company is considering an Irish expansion.

“As a global leader in employment services, we are always open to exploring new markets,” they said, but declined to comment on criticism of the company’s operating procedures.

Department call for tenders

At the end of December, the department launched the call for tenders for local plans, which are divided into 17 geographical areas.

It states that businesses are asked to provide “employment assistance and counseling services…to clients referred by the ministry, primarily those who are long-term unemployed clients furthest from the labor market.” with barriers to participation in the labor market and who justify the provision of intensive employment support services and receive a social allowance, and others who, although they are not long-term unemployed, are considered by the department to warrant the provision of intensive employment support services”.

The Department of Social Care did not respond to a request for comment on the meeting, but Minister Heather Humphreys earlier this month told People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith that it took place.

“Officials in my department have spoken extensively with interested parties ahead of the current procurement process for Employment Supported Services,” she said.

“At the request of organizations that have sought to report to the Department, my officials had introductory meetings with Maximus on December 9, 2021, Capita on September 24, 2021, and FedCap on May 11, 2021.”

Joel C. Hicks