Stateline Story

Clerical Error Eliminates Indiana's Largest State Agency

Indiana accomplished a stunning feat of government streamlining on June 30, when a new law took effect and abolished the state's largest agency: the Family and Social Services Administration, which helps more than a million Hoosiers access Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits.

The agency's dismantling came as a surprise to more than just welfare recipients, however. Even legislative leaders and Governor Mitch Daniels were caught off guard.

As it turns out, a clerical error during the drafting of legislation related to the Family and Social Services Administration resulted in the agency being eliminated, The Associated Press reports . Recognizing the error several days after the new law went into effect, Daniels signed an executive order on Thursday (July 7) to correct the oversight, the AP notes.

The AP explains how such a major error could happen:

"Senate Bill 331 was intended to repeal a provision already in law that would have automatically eliminated (the Family and Social Services Administration) — called a sunset," the news service reports. "The sunset language was set for June 30. The bill that repealed the sunset provision went into effect July 1, so technically, FSSA was eliminated minutes before the bill intended to save it went into effect."

Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for the error. The GOP, which holds majorities in both legislative chambers, said a five-week walkout by Democrats led to a crunched schedule in the final days of the session, putting a strain on bill writers. Democrats countered that Republicans were simply moving too fast to get their agenda passed.