LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday he has directed the state Department of Human Services to pause further development of the state Department of Human Services’ enrollment and eligibility system for the private option and other Medicaid programs.

LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Wednesday he has directed the state Department of Human Services to pause further development of the state Department of Human Services’ enrollment and eligibility system for the private option and other Medicaid programs.


In a letter to state House and Senate leaders, Hutchinson said the pause was recommended by a consultant, the Gartner Group, that was hired by the state to review the project and investigate cost overruns and delays. The project was originally budgeted at $108 million, but the estimated cost has ballooned to $220 million "because of mismanagement and federally mandated changes," he said in the letter.


The governor also said he will appoint a committee to assure the system is developed in alignment with the overall policy goals of the Legislature and his administration.


Talking to reporters Wednesday, Hutchinson said he is putting "a pause on development of new phases of this IT system until we know exactly what policy steps the state will take on Medicaid reform."


Hutchinson also said he is directing DHS to put the remainder of the contract for the project out to bid. He said he will ask the Legislature to approve awarding a contract to Gartner to develop and manage a request for proposals.


He said he will instruct DHS to bring in a systems integrator, on a fixed-price contract, to oversee future development of the system. In the future, a committee of agency directors will oversee all state technology contracts over $50 million, he said.


"Similar challenges must not happen again," he said in the letter.