An interesting moment at a committee meeting about home heating assistance brought to light an issue I’ve been dealing with. Several people have come to me about needing help from various state agencies, and not being able to get answers from those departments. I was pleased to hear this resonates with some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. During the home heating assistance hearing, one legislator mentioned that there are many state agencies and offices in Hartford that don’t answer phone calls all the time and we need to deal with that.
This may come down to our expanded teleworking environment. Is there accountability for employees working from home?
This issue has also been picked up on by Capitol media. During a press conference in August, a spokesperson for the Office of Policy and Management said there is no statewide standard for productivity and performance evaluation because of the wide range of agencies and job responsibilities in government. They noted that there are methods for evaluating remote workers, with the possibility of teleworking privileges being modified or revoked if employees don’t perform to an acceptable standard.
It’s been over a month now and we still don’t have any more information. We need to be assessing whether services are being effectively delivered.
If the lag in response time, or not getting a response at all, is instead due to a worker shortage, that should be addressed. In particular, the state Department of Labor seems overwhelmed with unemployment benefit-related fraud cases. There are also residents having issues outside of the fraud situation and their cases are lagging at a time when they are desperate for answers and this money.
It’s not just one agency though. This seems to be a systemwide issue.
The Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection hasn’t been responsive to some constituents who told me they are trying to renew firearms permits. There isn’t even a phone message saying that there’s a backlog DESPP is working through. Not only have I heard from residents having trouble getting a response from state agencies, but I’ve experienced it. For example, the Department of Transportation put out a construction advisory about a milling and paving project in Monroe on Route 111. There were rain delays, and more than a month later we finally heard back on a new schedule to complete the job. At the very least, we should be letting residents know if there’s going to be a delay in getting back to them on applications or finding answers to questions.
What steps are Governor Lamont and his administration taking to solve these ongoing issues? It’s clear something must be done. I am advocating for better hiring standards to streamlining the workforce to better serve residents of the state of Connecticut.
Tony Scott (R) represents the 112th state House District consisting of Monroe and portions of Easton and Trumbull.