Tuesday, August 04, 2009

All about the lawsuit

Many articles- some the same (AP)- I know that I was emailed the one I posted yesterday- and have just now had a chance to sift through the "news" to see what else is out there:

Hard To Believe, But Texas Is Fouling Up The Process Of Distributing Food-Stamp Relief

Texas Health and Human Services Commission Sued for Failure to Meet Federal Food Stamp Timeliness Guidelines

Lawsuit alleges Texas broke food-stamp processing laws

Google Search (just click this sentence) for the Lawsuit news

And here begins the beating down of the local office worker, I'm afraid.  You know, we - meaning us in the local offices- we, who used to do a FANTASTIC job in that we allowed for the State of Texas to receive enhanced funding several years in a row- money which, btw, went straight into the general fund, we knew that attempting to "outsource" and do "call centers" and take away the relationships that offices had with their clients- we KNEW this would lead up to THIS.  A lawsuit on timeliness. 

I guess it boils down to what I've been saying on this blog from day one- the workers in the field, the clerks, the local office supervisors- are doing ALL THEY CAN.  Are there cracks?  Of course!  But if you have more clients/applications coming in than you have workers with the abilities to see many in a day, and do them CORRECTLY- then it snowballs.  Into THIS- a lawsuit.  I'm torn about how "I" personally feel about the lawsuit, given that I think it's time that Perry and Co. are going to have to be accountable to some extent- and for the USDA to see what's going on (although they know).....but at the same time, I know that whatever this lawsuit brings- will hurt the local office.   

I know that "Joe Blow" doesn't care what we do- as I've said before.  But Joe Blow also doesn't realize that we, as employees, have families and lives too.  Most of us (MOST) care about what we do, and will work late, work weekends, etc- at the EXPENSE of OUR families- so that other families can eat.  And have Medical care for their children.  There's just so much one person can do.  After the "fake layoffs" and after the offices sunk- THEN and only THEN did the state realize they had to hire more people- by then, the damage was done.  You bring in new people and throw them to the wolves, so to speak, and they figure this was too much and they leave, and the process starts all over again.

Tenured staff that didn't "Jump Ship" (as it were) were depended on to do the jobs of 2 or 3.  Yes, staff were paid overtime (I mean, think about it- if you are working 10-11 hours per day, and on weekends- without PAY, you aren't so apt to work those crazy hours- and furthermore-earning the overtime as leave is a joke when you can never take it off to regroup) and that made it easier to bear- but it just gets to be too much. 

I forsee staff now (due to the lawsuit) having to work mandatory overtime and have to work cases for those areas that are so behind (Irving, for example, as these are where the clients are from from whom the lawsuit originated)...which will put those offices that are BARELY making it behind themselves....then the snowball starts back down the hill.

We had a system in place that worked.  BEFORE tiers.  BEFORE Accenture/Maximus.  It WORKED.  We proved it worked.  And now?  I just don't know how you fix something like this.


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...

The way I see it, there are two choices that the State has. One, which barring a mandate from the Federal Government I know won't happen is to STOP all TIERS, put the folks that are in the wretched system back on SAVERR, and go from there. A lot of the TIERS clients in the Houston and Dallas areas are being serviced by the ART staff. If they are behind in their caseloads too, then TIERS must not be that efficient. TIERS is probably going to be a great system once the bugs get worked out, and once the people using it have a chance to actually see it work, but even when you are trained and experienced in TIERS and are forced to see ten to twelve clients a day, with limited overtime available (our super says NO working off the clock,) of course you are going to get behind. I have been working with TIERS for the past three years, and I can safely say that I feel confident in my ability to see maybe eight clients a day and be able to do all the checks and balances that we are supposed to do as conscientious workers. Any more than that, and things tend to get overlooked or put off due to time constraints and cases don't get completed because there just isn't enough time in a day. I worked SAVERR reviewes on Saturday. We were assigned nine each. I was done with all but two of them by lunchtime, those two I couldn't get in contact with until the actual appointment time. Seven reviews interviewed, pended, Databrokered, OAG'd and TWC'd, along with BVS and some phone verifying done on the ones that I could, all in four hours. Any TIERS workers care to claim that? Same rules, same policy, different system. I say STOP using TIERS until it works as well or better than SAVERR. Why was SAVERR used to process all of the Hurricane IKE applications? Those were done by workers from all over the state also. The hole was dug when they started the Womens' Health Program, I don't know if the Feds realize it but Hawkins and his crew just laughed when they said to stop any more roll out of TIERS areas. There are still many many thousands of families each day getting put into the TIERS system because of the Womens' Health Program.

The only other choice would be to hire more workers, which could take a year or more before the effects are seen after posting the positions, interviewing, setting up training, and learnng in the OTJ environment... We have good, well trained workers now in the SAVERR system. Get rid of TIERS for the time being and focus on what works. Paid overtime and a tried and true system to work in would help immensely to rid the clog, so to speak.

Meli said...

Amen! As my supervisor has said, the clients don't care about what kind of situation the agency is in. But if they did care and realized how much it effects them, maybe they would have told their state reps that the offices needed more staff and that the TIERS system doesn't work worth a darn. That would have headed this lawsuit off at the pass. But since it seems nobody cares but the actual staff in the trenches, here we are. In my region we are unable to work any overtime unless in special situations but we all have the same complaint: "How do you even begin to get ahead when you have no time to do anything but interview?" So, clients go without because, in our region anyway, the state is too cheap to pay overtime or even allow us to be in the building after 5pm and before 8am. The way I see it, the only way the state of Texas is going to halt the TIERS program is if the federal government comes in and takes over. Perhaps that's what is needed so the people of Texas stop getting the short end of the stick.