Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I've gotten some feedback of the last batch of "expansion" of TIERS- and it's not great.  I really feel for the staff in those offices, being a worker myself (thankfully, still in SAVERR, but slowly moving more and more into TIERS)....and seeing what it's doing.  I also know ART staff that are in Region 7 right now and trying to help the local offices, and in a word:  chaos.
Again, the push from "higher ups" is to get timeliness back in line...but what isn't considered by them is that when you have local office scheduling, and the vendor scheduling, it turns into a nightmare.  Also, local office staff are having to deal with clients who are thoroughly confused, and will call 211 for information, be given bad information, call the office upset- and you have new workers to TIERS trying to navigate the system and they don't know what to tell the clients EITHER.
I will say again what I've said all along- Texas had a well oiled machine before "jsap" and before TIERS- yes, SAVERR was somewhat antiquated, but it got the job done- timely and efficiently.  After all, Texas was getting enhanced funding for the QC error rate and high marks on timeliness.  And where has that all gone?  QC has gone through the roof, and timeliness is below standards.  TIERS, the way I understand it in a 100% TIERS office, has no real good tracking system for keeping up when cases are due.  It's not like SAVERR where you had a WIP to keep progress on pending cases- you only have the portal (which doesn't distinguish between Food stamp cases and medicaid cases, when it comes to due dates) and old antiquated manual tracking.  It's not enough, is it, to have workers learning TIERS in the midst of a job that won't slow down enough so you learn it well, and also having to manually report cases each day, and cases done, etc.  Nevermind the turnover and all the new folks coming in right now to learn it all in an environment, I would imagine, doesn't provide for much one on one help.
Who suffers in all this?  Why, the clients of course.  What, with TIERS generated notices that ask for things they don't need, and workers who don't even realize TIERS is generating these notices, to clients getting them and not understanding what the hell is going on.  This is client services? 
My advice to anyone in the field in a newly expanded office is this:  while we have long been discouraged from encouraging our clients to call the legislators in their area- tell them to.  ESPECIALLY when the Vendor (2-1-1) is giving wrong information.  It makes the local field staff's job so much harder to have to fix something that is messed up.  Not to mention the fact that the state is continuing to expand into TIERS even though the call center that handles changes and Children's Medicaid Renewals are so very behind.  You realize what that leads to, right?  Clients leaning on the local office to do those things that CCC is supposed to do, adding to their already overburdened workload.  I know, for those of you out there that must deal with legislative complaints, that they are a pain.  Because then we (as an Agency) jump through hoops to get those cleared- but in the long run, if a local rep hears enough (much as they heard when Austin rolled), then maybe- JUST MAYBE- something would be looked at more closely.  The powers that be are counting on the fact that a big portion of our population are un or under educated, and are so focused on what WE are doing, that they WON'T call a legislator.
When you take a concept like 2-1-1 to deal with the actual cases, and take away the relationship that can be built between a worker and a client, you lose something in that translation.  I have heard stories where a client is interviewed, leaves the interview, has questions, calls 2-1-1 and is given crazy information.  If the "call center" concept wasn't there, that client would be calling their WORKER for information, and since it's that worker that actually INTERVIEWED the client and KNOWS the client's situation, the information would be closer to being correct.  That's gone.  And what is interesting is the push to NOT tell clients to call 2-1-1 but rather to call the local office, but every notice they get TELLS them to call 2-1-1.  Of course, the call center needs to have numbers, to justify their existence. 
Please, email me what is going on.  Again, I have never and WILL never disclose who emails me  information.  Never have.  Never will.  I need my job as well.  I'm just trying to make it better. 

This post done through Yahoo! Mail. You can email me at hhscemployee@yahoo.com. Please know all emails are kept confidential, and your identity will never be disclosed.


Anonymous said...

I agree that the incentive to be efficient has been abandoned. And it is true that each time the call center answers the phone the state gets a bill. You see that the incentives are really heavily weighted towards calling 211, not helping get cases processed. I work closely with SNAP, the newly adopted acronym for food stamps.
And Hawkins response to all this. Its hard. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

It is truly sad to see what has become of our agency. I used to feel like I was doing some good in the world. Further that our agency has blinded itself to the rising rate of unemployment and not had the foresight to hire and train staff so that we could try to stay at least two steps ahead. It's stressful because you can only do so much in the course of a day, drag yourself home late, ignore your family and have to get up the the morning and do it all over again. I don't see it getting better any time soon. Our worker and clerical staff are stretched as far as they can go yet still they want more. We are an agency led by an imbecile with morons for program managers and supervisors that make Tweedledum and Tweedledee look like Rhodes scholars. Our mortality rate among staff is starting to look like that at protective services. Sad times, very truly sad....

Anonymous said...

Now local office are told not to send in the applications for the vendor to schedule but to have the local clerical staff schedule them. This is due to vendor scheduling applications untimely and several regions are under corrective action for timeliness directly related to the scheduling by the vendor. Amazing that the vendor was hired to do this work but as always the work has been pushed to the local level. What are they being paid for?