Monday, February 22, 2010

DDS Furloughs: Where Are The Cost Savings?

Governor Patrick is taking some heat from the Social Security Administration for his recent directive to employees working for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS).

In a move that defies logic, Patrick has ordered 228 of the 272 DDS employees that review applications for federal disability benefits to take furloughs. Other state employees have been asked to take furloughs as a cost-saving measure, but these DDS employees are paid with federal funds. Not only is the state not saving any money, but the furloughs are sure to slow down the processing of requests from residents seeking federal assistance.

In an interview with the Boston Herald, U.S. Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue called Governor Patrick’s actions “incomprehensible.” Astrue noted that the average waiting period for an initial determination of eligibility has gone up “at an alarming rate” – from 82 days in 2008 to the current 96-day average – and also told the Herald he “cannot rule out legal action.”

So what does the Patrick Administration have to say about this? Spokesman Robert Bliss admitted to the Herald that the state won’t see any cost savings. Instead, he defended the Governor’s decision as an attempt to ensure the “equal treatment” of all state employees.