Project and Collaborative Performance
The Alliance for Change attained its objectives. The Department achieved the planned reductions and savings. The number of social assistance cases dropped from 42,000 to 28,000, and the case managers handle 75 to 125 cases instead of 300 to 400. Income-assistance cheques are sent out within 24 hours instead of seven days. Project implementation fell at least two years behind the original schedule. Yet annual savings of $8 million were achieved, and reimbursement of A/A’s fees took 30 instead of the expected 60 months. Moreover, the savings were sufficient to cover the maintenance costs of the computer system. NB Case performs all the desired functions and put an end to the abuses generated by the old system.
HRD-NB expressed a high level of satisfaction with the project and the collaboration with a private partner. Most participants would do it all over again and only a few had reservations about the collaboration with A/A. These reservations concern the difficulty in forming a genuine partnership between a public organization and private enterprise. A real partnership implies that both partners have equal influence on the entire project and decision-making power. Yet because HRD-NB depends on government decisions (whether or not to approve), it had no real control over project developments. By the same token, neither did the private firm.
The project brought about a major change in clients’ attitudes. Beneficiaries now feel more in control of their situation; they can make choices. They also realize how much faster, fairer and more equitable the system is. They know that, if they want to break out of the vicious circle of poverty and dependency, the case managers can help them do it.