The administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin came under fire Tuesday for outsourcing jobs connected with the Vermont Health Connect insurance exchange — on the same day that officials said another out-of-state contractor was adding 60 new jobs. Vermont Republican Chairman David Sunderland issued a statement criticizing the state’s hiring of a Nebraska-based company to handle billing and collections for Vermont Health Connect. … The criticism came the same day that officials announced that a second out-of-state contractor, Maximus Inc., would be bringing in 60 call center staff to address long waits faced by callers to the Vermont Health Connect call center. Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, said that work would be done at Maximus offices in the Chicago area. Most of the previously existing call center jobs have been in Burlington, and more are likely to be added there as well, Larson said….
Three months after the disastrous rollout of a new $63 million website for unemployment claims, Florida is hiring hundreds of employees to deal with technical problems that left tens of thousands of people without their checks while penalties mount against the vendor who set up the site.
Efforts at modernizing the systems for unemployment compensation in California, Massachusetts and Nevada have also largely backfired in recent months, causing enormous cost overruns and delays.
While the nation’s attention was focused on the troubled rollout of the federal health care site under the Affordable Care Act, the problems with the unemployment sites have pointed to something much broader: how a lack of funding in many states and a shortage of information technology specialists in public service jobs routinely lead to higher costs, botched systems and infuriating technical problems that fall hardest on the poor, the jobless and the neediest.
As a result, the old stereotype of applicants standing in long lines to speak to surly civil servants at government unemployment offices is quickly being replaced. Now those seeking work or government assistance are often spending countless hours in front of buggy websites, then getting a busy signal when they try to get through by phone. …
…Deloitte defended its work, saying that most jobless people have been able to file for benefits without trouble. It blamed the department for the latest setbacks because, the company said, it changed requirements that strained Deloitte’s resources. The company has already made more than 1,000 fixes and successfully processed at least 300,000 claims, Deloitte said in response to the latest fine.
Deloitte said a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office showed that states were struggling to modernize their unemployment insurance programs, because governments lacked the budgets and the trained staff to make the updated systems work. Most of the issues that continue to dog the project, the company said, are beyond its control or have nothing to do with the software. …
Mayor Sandra Bury said that the village is still waiting to be served on charges of unfair labor practices in the wake of the village board’s decision to outsource Oak Lawn’s emergency communications center to a private company last month. An injunction was filed by the Metropolitan Alliance of Police Local 351 charging that village officials engaged in bad faith bargaining and breach of contract. …
Oak Lawn may privatize emergency call center
Source: Steve Metsch, southtownstar.com, November 25, 2013
In a move that Oak Lawn village manager Larry Deetjen said could save the village $1 million over two years, the village board on Tuesday night will consider privatizing its police and fire dispatch service, forcing 20 dispatchers to eventually apply for their current jobs.
A Virginia government contractor is expanding its operations in Northeastern Pennsylvania with a new service center in CenterPoint Trade Park East promising between 500 and 700 new jobs for the area. Maximus, a company that provides support for health and human services at all levels of government, expects to occupy its new location sometime in January and will be accepting job applications for the next several months. The company is filling seats to support its Medicare and Medicaid appeal review operations, which first appeared in the region last April at a smaller center in Moosic with about 100 employees. When Medicare and Medicaid determinations are appealed, Maximus provides an independent review service for those disputed claims. The new building represents Moosic’s expansion. …
…The average salary for new Maximus workers will be between $30,000 and $36,000, Miles said. Job openings remain for administration, technical-support staff and finance positions. Maximus also is hiring technical editors and writers. Entry-level positions require at least a high school diploma or GED certificate. The indicated starting salary is slightly lower than the area’s average income for an individual, said Redevelopment Authority Director, Joe Chacke, but he said Maximus’ arrival is good news for the city where 52 percent of residents fall in the low- to moderate-income range….
The Oxford County Sheriff’s Office is abandoning its longtime call-sharing agreement with Maine State Police and taking primary responsibility for law enforcement response in the county.
Oxford County Sheriff’s Office. According to Sheriff Wayne Gallant, the agreement established a decade ago “doesn’t seem to work well” and leaves gaps in coverage. … Residents regularly contact the Sheriff’s Office to complain that officers either did not respond to a call or were hours late, Gallant told commissioners. He admitted sheriff’s deputies were also responsible for coverage shortfalls. County residents are also discouraged when they call the county’s dispatch center in South Paris for police service and are transferred to the state police barracks in Gray because a trooper has responsibility for the zone, he said. With the new arrangement, the Sheriff’s Office will take over primary coverage for the entire county. Calls for police service and 911 calls to the Oxford County Regional Communications Center in South Paris will be automatically directed to deputies. If residents want to have a trooper respond, they will still be able to call the state police in Gray directly, he added. …
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said the communication lines between county officials and Rural/Metro, the county’s ambulance provider, are open. “Our major concern is the safety of the community, and we reiterated the fact that we want to work with them and they want to work with us,” Burchett said Friday. Meetings came as a result of a July 1 letter from Knox County Purchasing Director Hugh Holt that listed concerns about staffing and response times. Rural/Metro Community Relations Director Tom Milton met earlier this past week with Holt and the county’s Health Department Director Dr. Martha Buchanan to address the specific concerns. Milton and an executive over the company’s East Coast operations met with Burchett on Friday. “It helps us to realize that we do need to be communicating with them,” Milton said. “Clearly there are things we can do internally to help with the issues.”
Rural/Metro says performance concerns are unfounded
Source: Hailey Holloway, Wate.com, July 10, 2015
After Knox County’s purchasing director highlighted possible performance problems with Rural/Metro in a letter to the ambulance service, both Rural/Metro and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett are addressing concerns. The letter has to do with how many ambulances Rural/Metro has available to handle emergency calls around the county and asks for an explanation about performance concerns, but Rural/Metro said the claims are false. Mayor Burchett maintains that the response times are concerning, adding that the ambulance service deals with taxpayer dollars. “Anything dealing with public safety and I’m very concerned,” he said. “We’re supposed to be asking those questions. As the chief financial officer of the county, that’s what we should be doing.” The Knox County Health Department told WATE 6 On Your Side that Rural/Metro has said it’s having trouble filling shifts. There are 23 job openings, but the ambulance service says it’s not a problem.
Rural Metro employees not getting properly paid
Source: Ashlee DeMartino, KPHO, July 7, 2015
This isn’t the first time Rural Metro has had payroll issues. Back in February, nearly 120 firefighters and paramedics weren’t paid. Since then, employees have had problems every pay period. “I felt completely helpless,” Scott Tammaro said. Tammaro has been a paramedic for PMT Ambulance, which is owned by Rural Metro, for four years. Friday, as he and his family were getting ready to celebrate the holiday weekend, Tammaro checked his paycheck and noticed something was missing. “It was missing approximately $1,120 and about 50 hours of time,” she said. Tammaro immediately contacted Rural Metro’s corporate office, human resources and payroll. The email response from corporate wasn’t what he was expecting. “It said they acknowledge the mistake, and the money would be added to my next paycheck about two weeks from now,” Tammaro said. We obtained a copy of the email to Tammaro from Rural Metro. “Scott, it appears that the timecard you turned in wasn’t received until Wednesday July 2,” it read. “We close the prior week every Monday morning. “ “I faxed the timecard June 24, and also put it in an envelope marked payroll and expected our courier who used to come on a daily basis to pick it up and take it to payroll,” Tammaro said. With no clear answers, Tammaro went to his union’s Facebook page for help and noticed that the union’s president had posted on Friday suggesting people check their pay stubs and report any issues. The comments below the post showed Tammaro wasn’t the only one with pay issues.
…Without an end in sight, government and public safety leaders have to look at solutions outside business as usual. One idea creating an uproar throughout public safety unions and with employees themselves is the new trend of privatizing 911/police dispatch services…. Concerns of who will be hired enter into most discussions of privatization. Will the workers be qualified? Will they receive enough wages to keep turnover low? Will the company outsource overseas? All of these questions and more crop up when you are talking about a community’s first responders….
…On January 22, 2103, after a 4-0 vote, Lawrence became the first town in New Jersey to privatize their 911 services. iXP won in the RFP process, receiving a two-year contract paying $719,400 a year to run the emergency dispatch services. …
Concerns about paramedic services in Union County were raised Monday by Union County’s acting 9-1-1 director. Two recent incidents in which local dispatchers requested a paramedic be dispatched were denied by Rural/Metro’s central dispatch, Union County acting 9-1-1 director Kathy Cantrell told the Union County commissioners. Under its contract, Union County has advanced life support service with Rural/Metro, with paramedics to be summoned when needed. Paramedics often meet ambulances en route to the hospital to administer needed medications, which only they can do….Rural Metro is in the first year of a three-year contract to provide ambulance service in Union County. The company submitted the low bid of $175,000 per year to win the contract, which previously was held by Fayette Regional Health System….
…Last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would move forward with an advisory panel for stressed municipalities that would help them restructure, and perhaps merge with each other. … There’s just one problem: Consolidation is the great idea everybody loves to hate.
While it’s been floated in Erie and Schenectady counties, there haven’t been any major regional consolidations in New York state since 1898, when the cities of New York and Brooklyn merged with villages in Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island to form greater New York City. Some recent regional consolidations include Indianapolis and Louisville, Ky., both of which merged with their surrounding counties.
Also this year, the villages of Victory and Middleburgh voted against dissolution. In both instances, voters said the greater feeling of control they had from living in a village was worth any extra tax costs….
…Instead, governments have turned to ad hoc agreements to share services. A few months before Jurczynski’s speech, the State Commission on the Capital Region issued a report with several such recommendations, some of which have been better implemented than others.
In Schenectady County, officials at the County Legislature formed a standing committee in 2004 to look at shared service opportunities, according to spokesman Joe McQueen. This includes county mechanics performing maintenance on fire trucks from Scotia and all kinds of Electric City-owned vehicles.
Before year’s end, McQueen said the county would unify its 911 dispatching system, consolidating separate centers in Schenectady, Glenville, Rotterdam and Niskayuna. It’s been talked about for more than 20 years, and McQueen said it was projected to save a total of $500,000 a year….
The Joint Commission on Shared Municipal Services has appointed two advisory committees to support its first steps toward helping cities and towns cut costs by working together to provide municipal services. The commission…has announced the appointment of a Public Safety Dispatch Service Advisory Committee and a Tax Collection Service Advisory Committee, since public safety dispatch and tax collection were among the services that legislators have identified as having the greatest potential for sharing and saving money for municipalities.