A Sorry State of Affairs

I’m back after digging out from the first major snowstorm of 2013. Not happy, our tax refund was held up because we claimed education credits. God forbid we aspire to a college education for our progeny… The IRS wont accept our return until Feb 15. All because they did not do their jobs in Washington. Aggravating, to say the least – especially when we were not notified until AFTER we had filed that the return would not be accepted. And we can really use the money NOW. Not that anyone cares, but we have a leaky roof, and plumbing that needed fixing – in addition to the regular bills. So it would’ve been awesome for the feds to actually give us the money they owe us in a timely fashion. I mean really – if WE owed THEM then you bet your sweet bipp -y that they’d be attaching wages or whatever. but when THEY owe US …. nothin…..

But anyway – Massachusetts is in a bad way. Much waste and abuse. I have discussed this before. Folks who are friends on FaceBook or followers on Twitter have seen my posts. I’ve provided links to relevant information below.

It never ceases to amaze me how the bureaucracy fails to standardize itself. Gotta tell ya: one of the first things I learned when I transferred to the Administration Department where I work is standardizing a filing system. This involves creating an index, so that if I look in any file for a specific piece of information I will find it in the same place in each and every file. For example, in any one of the 300+ case records at our agency I can quickly find social security numbers because the cards are copied and filed first in the legal/administrative section of the record. Filing is standardized and documents are kept in order in the record so that 1. They are easy to find; and 2. Conversely, it is easy to discover when information is missing. We also conduct periodic QA “peer audits” to assure we have what we need in terms of required information.

Apparently all this is optional at the state level, at least in the TAFDC Department. (Lord only knows what the federal requirements are). I have to work frequently with the state -with two different  Area Offices in regard to contracting and service provision. I’m flabbergasted at the differences in what is required for responses to needed information on THEIR standardized forms. One A/O requires the forms to be filled out with “X”. The other A/O – same contract type, same type of service provision, same location; requires the same form to be filled out with “Y”.Not only that, but  how each office goes about doing things can be quite different. What’s good for one AO gets returned to us by another.

I have self-diagnosed OCD. Discrepancies like this drive me flippin NUTS. For example: The paperwork for the same activity code (same type of service) should be required to be completed in a standardized manner. Same answers for the same questions (different numbers/budgets obviously – but the methodology should be the same). Not so. Doesn’t make any sense at all, but certainly goes a long way towards illuminating some reasons why the state financial situation is in such disarray. No set standards.

Which brings me to a sorry conclusion. Much of what is wrong with this country right now is our inability to hold any elected official, any office, any department, any group, or any person to a set standard. There’s always an excuse. Out of the 381 welfare cases reviewed by the MA OIG just under 2% of them were found to be out of compliance/suspect/receiving benefits fraudulently/abusing the system via loopholes. Lack of documentation of school attendance, immunization records and some cases even receiving benefits without a social security number.  Cultural practices of naming children (last names/hyphenation and using the mothers last name) creating confusion because again no standardized requirements on birth certificates, social security card applications etc.  Switch the two last names around and bingo – collecting for two kids instead of one.  Anyway – the whole mess translates to more than $24 MILLION dollars per year wasted on people who were not actually eligible for benefits, or utilized them improperly. Heck, we are sending money to people we can’t even verify a current address for…. (see related article with video below from a local Boston station) Some might say 1.8% is within acceptable statistical limits. I say NO. 24 million dollars wasted per year is by no means acceptable by any standard.

Fortunately, some people in our state government agreed, and the head of the Welfare Department was asked to give his resignation. That doesn’t fix the problem though. Did you know there are currently only 3 Welfare Fraud Investigators in MA? WAY too few if you ask me…. So, MA will “harrumph” around for awhile, make a few ineffective and minor changes, appoint several more high level bureaucrats at six figure salaries to oversee these changes- and go back to wasteful business as usual. Too many bosses and far too few workers. Same old song and dance. I just don’t know what it will take to effect true positive and lasting change in the hulking morass of inefficiency and waste that constitutes Government.  We are constantly expected to do more with less, make do with less. I submit that we would not have to do that on such a constant basis if things were run more effectively and efficiently by those in charge. “But that’s just me….” (Thanks Barney! 😉 )

Old State House, Boston, MA, USA

Old State House, Boston, MA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welfare Chief steps down

Welfare Statistics

Massachusetts OIG TAFDC Report

The OIG report takes awhile to load so be patient, thanks!

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4 thoughts on “A Sorry State of Affairs

  1. Imitation is the best form of flattery! Of course I’m not upset. The witholding form has a formula for calculating witholding. Roughly, add up total deductible dollars and divide by the standard deduction amount.

  2. So now you’ve lowered yourself to “borrowing” my Tag Line! Wow!!!

    My personal observation is that many voters agree that politicians and governments are failing miserably, and we should “throw the bums out.” Unfortunately, we all seem to believe that they’re all bums, except our guys, who we keep voting back in office. When this is how the whole country behaves, then the “bums” are never thrown out, but kept behind their desks, continuing to spout platitudes, while doing nothing to fix the problems.

    And BTW. Hurry on down to your payroll office and increase your W-2 exemptions right now! There is no reason on god’s green earth that you should be giving the government an interest free loan for a year, and that’s exactly what a refund is. Better to have to pay a few dollars than give them free money.

    But that’s just me…

    • You’re not upset I borrowed it are you? I considered it an homage. Yeah I have to figure out the fine line when it comes to exemptions so that we don’t end up owing. Did that one year, not fun. Hope all is well. Did you take your vacation yet? Hugs!

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