Thursday, June 08, 2006

Athens Call Center News



By Cristin Ross
 
Despite numerous problems reported in other Accenture call centers and the State Employees Union’s call for termination of its contract with the state, officials said Tuesday, Athens’ Accenture call center is still a go.
 
Reports from Athens Economic Development Corporation put the Athens center’s tentative opening date at June 26.
 
“They’re already training people out there,” said AEDC executive assistant Mary Waddell.
 
Telephone messages to Accenture’s offices in Dallas and Austin were not returned to the Review, as of presstime Tuesday.
 
Accenture’s call centers allow people to apply for various state benefits over the phone, online and in person.
 
The state contracted with Accenture to run the call centers when the decision to privatize the Health and Human Services Department was made in 2004. An estimated 2,900 state employees were laid off last October because of that decision, but those layoffs were rescinded in May as Accenture’s problems intensified — the most recent of which reportedly caused an undetermined number of client applications to be inadvertently faxed to a warehouse in Seattle, Wash.
 
That incident has the Texas State Employees Union urging the state to terminate Accenture’s contract and return to the way the state handled the department before — with local state-run offices.
 
“Accenture’s actions not only caused people to not get services that they desperately needed, it caused confidential information to be compromised,” Texas State Employees Union Vice-president Mike Gross said in a press release published June 2. “If state employees had compromised confidential information like this, they would be fired in a heartbeat. The same standard should apply to Accenture.”
 
Accenture officials report problems with the San Antonio and Midland centers have been aggravated by several changes to the application process and in eligibility requirements went into effect and by the usual bugs inherent in any brand new system.
 
“The problems we’re having in San Antonio are more of a technical variety, and not as severe as first thought,” Accenture spokeswoman Stephanie Goodwin said in mid-May. We feel pretty confident we can work through those problems soon.
“With the volume of calls we have been getting, we still absolutely need the Athens center.”
 
The center in Athens has been in the works since December 2005, when the company chose Athens over three other cities, including Longview. The AEDC helped bring the center to town by offering incentives like job incentives and helping fund the massive remodeling of the building on Corsicana Street that formerly housed the K-Mart retail store.
 
“This is wonderful for this community,” Gatlin said in an earlier interview. “This caliber of company and its affiliates promises to bring good jobs with good pay to the area. They are a first class group.”
 
Accenture’s recent push to get the openings in the Athens center filled was a complete success, according to hiring firm AppleOne regional manager Ron Griffin, who reported a total of 105 positions filled.
 
“We got every position they needed filled right now, filled,” Griffin said. “Most positions filled were custom representatives, but we did get some of the managerial jobs filled, too.
 
“The quality of the applicants was excellent.”
 
Officials said the center will train its new employees over a three-week period, before opening the center for business.
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5 comments:

Still Wondering in S. TX said...

I have a disposition worker job here if and when it opens, but have heard nothing from HHSC on if or when I am supposed to be ready to move and go to work......Are they planning on working only TAA people here until they get the go ahead with the roll outs, or are they just trying to jump the gun again?

Anonymous said...

do you work for hhsc now and wondering about your job in the "new" eligibility system?
Is that what you mean?

still wondering in s.tx said...

Yes, that's what I am wondering about......I have heard nothing from HHSC on if or when I am supposed to be ready to go to work, yet they are still planning to open the call center in Athens in a week. I live 8 hours from there, and would need to get some sort of housing, but they don't see that or don't care, I guess. I can't just go a rent or buy a place cause the deal is still up in the air..

Anonymous said...

The way I understand it is, you don't go to your new job until that area rolls out on tiers. Athens is in the same region as I am and our roll out is on hold. Everybody's roll out is on hold for that matter. The way I understand is you won't go until then.
Send the question in to the connection. Maybe they will answer it, if they can. I don't believe they (HHSC) know what they are going to do either.

Anonymous said...

Could you imagine how bad it would be if they rolled out another Region in say a year?

It would be pure chaos.