May 05, 2006
HHSC now giving retention bonuses

You couldn't come up with a better illustration of the abject failure that privatization of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (THHSC) has been than this story.

State welfare workers who were destined for pink slips to make way for privatized eligibility screeners are getting $1,800 retention bonuses instead, Health and Human Services Commissioner Albert Hawkins announced Thursday.

With the move to privately run eligibility screening off to a troubled start, the commission has scrapped any plans to lay off state employees during the next 12 months, he said, and will lay off no more than 900 employees during the transition to private call centers.

The state had planned to lay off 1,900 employees by the time the transition was complete, but will now keep 1,000 of those state employees on permanently.

What do you think this is going to do to that Giant Moneysaving Nirvana we were promised when this thing was first shoved through the Legislature? Sure is a mystery why we haven't seen an updated projection on that since that legendary $646 million figure was first handed down, isn't it? Where's the Comptroller's office when you really need it?

All 4,800 eligibility workers currently employed, assuming they are in good standing, and 900 temporary workers will be eligible for a $900 retention bonus this summer and another $900 bonus six months later, commission spokeswoman Stephanie Goodman said.

State leaders on the Legislative Budget Board, meanwhile, have promised the commission an extra $85.9 million to keep the state workers, she said.

Forty-eight hundred workers times $1800 in retention bonuses works out to $8,640,000. I presume the remainder of that $85.9 million is for a year's worth of salaries, benefits, and other associated costs for the lucky thousand that will not get pink-slipped just yet.

Maybe - maybe - if there had been a small pilot program for this sucker for a year or so, in which all aspects of the system could be tested, all documentation for procedures could be written and training for them produced, and the first wave of Accenture employees could get up to speed, then we could have a path to real success for this program. But we got this instead. And the people who really need these services are the ones paying for the screwup.

More as always from Father John and Samm Almaguer. Check out also this anonymous HHSC employee's blog. Whoever you are, I hope that retention bonus helps.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 05, 2006 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

Yes, it will help! However, it won't change the shortages in the offices and it won't take away the fact that just to keep up, I'll have to work weekends.

Thanks for linking me!

Posted by: hhscemployee on May 5, 2006 3:02 PM

While I don't hold this as evidence that all privatization is bad, I will agree with you that THIS program was poorly ran. Outsourcing like this is typically only successful if...

1. As you said, its well piloted first.


2. A substantial amount of the existing employees (who know the ropes) are brought into the new private fold.

Typically the problem is not with the workers, but with the beuracracy.

Sadly the worksers are given the shaft while the bureaumonsters are given a free pass.

That sucks.

Posted by: Sedosi on May 5, 2006 9:38 PM

Thank you, Sedosi! Well said.

You know, this site, along with many other people in Texas, did try to warn Texas that this would happen.

Posted by: hhscsurvivalist on May 8, 2006 7:55 PM

Thank God I got out when I did.
The morons should have used state workers to answer the phones and work the cases. At least there was some hope of it working that way.
They just do not know how complex the system is.

Posted by: HHSCEXEMPLOYEE on May 23, 2006 2:33 PM