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$6M Contractor Guidehouse Slow on Distributing Noem’s CARES Act Business Aid

Governor Kristi Noem waited until October to launch her headline program of welfare checks to businesses and non-profits economically harmed by the coronavirus pandemic. She was quick to give international consultants Guidehouse $6 million to administer the program for her (since she’s too busy traveling to waste time governing). But that big-money privatization isn’t moving CARES Act relief dollars very fast into the pockets of suffering businesses:

The $450 million program, which the Legislature endorsed, promised to give a boost to small businesses that could show a downturn from last year.

…The Bureau of Finance and Management has reported that just 16%, or 951 out of 5,912, small businesses, startups and nonprofits that applied have received a total of about $86 million.

…Liza Clark, commissioner of the Bureau of Finance and Management, told lawmakers in November that many businesses had not answered emails requesting to fix errors in their applications and worried that emails could have been lost in their spam folders.

But Brie Korkow, who operates a rodeo business near Pierre, said she diligently checked her email and began calling the program’s helpline every few days for updates. She had to make a few corrections to her application that she felt should have been easy to catch by a better-designed process.

Other business owners, such as Karen Johnson who operates a bed and breakfast in Sioux Falls, said they were asked to correct errors that they had not made [Stephen Groves, “Business Owners Frustrated at Pace of Coronavirus Grants,” AP, 2020.12.30].

It used to be that the government could spend six million dollars and get better, stronger, faster workers. But under the Noem Administration, six million dollars gets us a sixth of the work in the allotted time (the original plan was to have all those CARES Act dollars out the door rendering aid and comfort to thousands of South Dakota firms by yesterday, the deadline Congress set in March for spending all state aid, and the deadline that would have stayed in place if lame-duck Trump had stuck to his guns and vetoed the new coronavirus relief bill).

If there was any argument for privatizing the distribution of CARES Act relief, it was that those high-priced private sector consultants could process thousands of applications and move hundreds of millions of dollars more efficiently than state workers in Pierre. Evidently at Guidehouse, that’s not the case. Hmm… maybe we’d have gotten faster service from state employees who’ve dedicated their careers to public service in South Dakota rather than a corporation whose minions answer to corporate bosses elsewhere.


  1. Mike 2020-12-31

    This is her job. Her only job.

    Why have the feds even pass a stimulus or covid relief if she can’t get it to those in need?

    This should be the headline on top of every newspaper, blog, tv station across the state.

    Thune, Johnson and Rounds have to be enraged. They voted for relief and she has failed to deliver it to the people who needed it. She is undermining their intent.

    Absolutley maddening. I have seldom been so upset at government.

  2. buckobear 2020-12-31

    … and where’s the vaccination plan ??

  3. mike from iowa 2020-12-31

    Don’t get into a pother wondering why about noem and focus your attention on wingnuts who refuse to force her to stay at home, just like in DC.

    All across America wingnuts are enabling crooked wingnuts to get away with everything they’ll soon be crucifying Biden for doing.

  4. Loren 2020-12-31

    Contracting out a state $$$ program to a private firm? Why? Was Joop Bolen not available?

  5. Jake 2020-12-31

    Interestingly; I, a few minutes ago received a call from Feeding South Dakota thanking me for my donations to their cause. I welcomed it and then said I’d send them rhe $600.00 from feds coming up as I did the $1200.00 last spring. I further asked if they had received anything from the Federal Covid fund –she passed me to an accountant in-house who said “No” they hadn’t received any Covid funds at all.
    Apparently, for food aid programs to receive anything at all from the State or Feds it has to be filtered thru corporate or individual business interests first; then given as a ‘donation’ to food bank non-profits. Meanwhile, the poorer of the economy wait hours in food distribution lines for food like during the Depression of the ’30’s”. And, in Florida, senior citizens wait in lines over-night for a ‘maybe’
    Covid vaccine shot. We all here remember our Cold War era when our media made a big show out of the long lines in Russia trying to buy bread etc! Yet, here we are, in 2020/21, and in the Republican run red states the rich line up at the Federal trough of goodies and the lower classes line up for food and vaccine.!

  6. Eve Fisher 2020-12-31

    Sounds an awful lot like EB-5 and Gear Up, both of which allowed certain parties to hose up federal $$ without actually doing anything they were supposed to do.

  7. Mike 2020-12-31

    This is her governancy’s reputation exposed as a failure on the most important job she has.

    This is the issue that would sink her against Billie Sutton.

    The media, dems and conservative lawmakers like Taffy Howard could and should draw attention to the mismanagement with the delivery of funds while she is off fooling around.

    The gop base might love her no matter what but she is still only polling around 50% in all the polls that have come out.

    I’m tired of no one holding her accountable.

    Where is Randy Seiler to take the shine off of her? Where are the dem lawmakers? Nesiba is a good guy but he should call for people to be fired in Noem’s administration. They should get some headlines. Where is the media? Where are the chambers and the business community? This is incredible that she is withholding hundreds of millions of dollars that are intended to help those in need. Where is Thune?

    The least the dems could do is send out a press release.

  8. grudznick 2020-12-31

    Mr. mike, you are from Iowa so you wouldn’t know that Mr. Seiler is busy pimping the demon weed and bragging up how the Democratic Party has five hundred dollars (not five hundred thousand or million) in the bank, but hey it is better than being in the red like Ms. Hawks left them.

    The Libbie Lawmakers are impotent. Ms. Duba is quitting. Mr. Nesiba is the best they have, and that is saying something. Even my good friend Bill, a former friend of this blog, has taken millions in government money and gone into isolation in his Rapid City mansion.

    My money is on the return of Mr. Bradford, who was nearly a libbie Governor and even served a bit as a Republican, to return from the dead and send out a press release.

    I’m just sayin…

  9. robin friday 2020-12-31

    No one needs to be “liberal” to be impotent in this state, grudz. One just needs to have a D behind their name. (I realize you don’t believe it, but not all “D”s are “libbies”, especially in SD.) Or anything other than “R”. One-party rule. And rule they do. Don’t worry about the cannabis thing. The ruling administration and legislature will probably overturn the expressed will of the people.

  10. grudznick 2020-12-31

    So perhaps, not all “R”s are the ones you should hate on. Some “R”s are swell fellows, like grudznick. It is a shame Mr. H’s out-of-state name-callers don’t understand that. Golly if it wasn’t for all the mask and 10′ rule stuff I’d give you a big hug right now.

  11. Jake 2021-01-02

    Grudz, you spent your career promoting the GOP grifting and rho you say you don’t like Trump, your party is responsible for S Dakota’s period of darkness it currently has under one-party rule. You make fun of the lack of funding Democrat party has, but we all know that in SD it has been a fact for some time that the GOP in this state controls the gov’t and the money flowing from it as such is the case now with Noem stashing all that Federal blue-state cash she received in the bank, drawing interest for the state accounts, instead of getting it to non-profits like Volunteer Fire Depts and Food Banks. You are fine with that it seems, as those first capitalist pigs to the trough in your book deserve the cream of the slop provided. Yet, when it comes to funding the poor people with $2000 to stimulate the economy (every dollar probably spent) you and yours cry “But we have to worry about the Deficit!” You are so phoney, my man.

  12. leslie 2021-01-02

    “I will hold you to not blaming all Republicans for any Peter Pan ideas the libbies have that Mr. Biden can’t make come true.” Grdz is all about red state’s knee on the throat of the Left for the last 8 years, but NOW it’s 1.) “hey, Trump is bad, but don’t blame ALL Republicans.” 2.) And in his denial process he never hesitates to misname all Democratic critique over 8 years as “hate”.

    These are his mantras; and he can’t stand 3.) out-of-state commenters who challenge his manic depression, and red-neck arrogance daily here. He tries to “home-town” them.


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