Citizen Action to Governor Haslam: Delay Workers’ Comp Changes Until You Fix Gross Mismanagement WIthin Department of Labor
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is pushing changes to workers’ comp that will take workers’ comp claims out of the impartial court system and put them directly under the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Introduced in the General Assembly as HB194 & SB200, the changes would create a brand new agency under the Department of Labor and Workforce Development as well as allow the Governor to appoint a workers’ comp “czar,” who would also be under the purview of the Dept. of Labor.
On the Thursday before Easter Sunday, the comptroller’s office released the state’s Single Audit Report, an annual audit of the state agencies and universities that must comply with federal government requirements. The report, which covers the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, examines more than $15.9 billion of federal funds spent by state government. It contains 48 findings with recommendations for improvement in 11 different state agencies and universities.
The department identified by the report as having the highest level of mismanagement was the Department of Labor and Workforce Development (25% of the recommendations), where auditors “found that the department’s internal controls for the program were ineffective or nonexistent” and that their “efforts to review fraudulent claims and claims paid in error and to collect overpayments were also strained.” From the report:
The Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s management has threatened the integrity of the Unemployment Insurance Program by failing to provide sufficient internal controls and oversight.
The report also suggests that the state is at risk for an audit.
With so many problems of mismanagement plaguing the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, is now really the time to take workers’ comp claims out of the impartial court system and put them under an entirely new agency within the Department of Labor? Can the Governor really afford to jeopardize the health and well-being of workers’ injured on the job and their families? This is about smart and efficient government and Governor Haslam and his staff need to fix already existing mismanagement before expanding anything.
Citizen Action and the AFL-CIO of TN is calling on Governor Haslam to postpone his changes to workers’ comp until the 2013 legislative session, after he has had a chance to clean up the mismanagement within the Department of Labor and the Comptroller has had a chance to issue the next Single Audit Report.
From Wil Hammond, Communications Director, AFL-CIO of TN:
“The Single Audit Report found mismanagement within multiple divisions of the department of labor and workforce development, costing the taxpayers of Tennessee over $73 million dollars in overpayments and fraud. Tennesseans deserve better than to have their fate determined by a department that is not only mismanaged but that has in recent weeks also seen it’s top management resign for ‘family reasons.’”