Friday, April 22, 2011
My testimony for today's Budget hearing for the Department of Disability
Good morning Chairman Graham and members of this committee.
Before you today is the task of determining a budgetary needs for The Department of Disability Services and the Rehabilitation Services Administration of the government of the District of Columbia.
I am well versed with these two agencies, their leadership and their many of their staff members. Their ability to thoroughly understand and respond to the needs of persons living in the District of Columbia with disability is lacking knowledge, insight, politeness and professionalism that every resident is deserving of. Additionally, I would suggest to you that before any budget is sent for markup this committee should take a hard look at the multi levels of mismanagement and misinformation that lies in the very belly of the beast. A complete examination should be taken from Director, Laura Nuss, and Roy Albert down. Including particular, job performance and ability’s of the counselor level and the seemingly lack of supervisor or mid-level manager that most often is null and void of the simplest methods for such an agency. With such mismanagement of individual cases you can bet that millions of dollars is being spent on personnel that are not performing to the standards that most state organizations require of their employees. There is simply no standard in place to assure that residents get the needed services they both deserve and need. Often complaints go unanswered and when you do get a response it is often late, unqualified, and lacking the results that are merited. Even more frightening it comes from someone that had no knowledge of the situation first hand and they are then left to read poorly prepared notes and hearsay. Thus, the resident in need lacks the assistance he or she should have had.
This is very important when planning a budget for such a department. The Department of Disability Services and Rehabilitation Services have both held meetings with supporting agencies in this city that both care for and work with persons with disabilities. These agencies have been told that budgets are being cut; services are being reduced due to monetary shortages.
When in fact, Chairman Graham, this agency is mismanaging cases and the outcome renders individuals needing services under funded so that a continuation of people at both the consular and supervisor level can continue to be paid for a job far less than acceptable by most standards. Funding is being spend and has been spend on employees that under perform and lack the proper oversight by the mid-level supervisor that also under performs thus creating a vacuum of large amounts of money being spend on salaries and benefits that really does not go to benefit the very people that need the services the most.
Services are cut, yet unqualified individuals continue to be paid and offered benefits for doing far less than any other state agency would allow. This due in part to both poor training, but mainly to mismanagement and both the Director and others to set standards and see that acceptable levels of standards are maintain.
Thus, before any budget is put into place a hard look should first come to the supervisory level training and the very employees that are in place and how they effectively oversee cases, and the counselors that are in charge of the services that our disabled residents receive.
There are frightening examples, and conduct of some of these District of Columbia employees is beyond comparison. This city first recognized and began to talk about mid-level management, mismanagement in the 1980’s and I can only assure you that currently in the Department of Disability Services under the current Director, it continues or has gotten worse. There are mannerisms put into place that are both unprofessional, demeaning, and derogatory towards recipients of service by these two agencies as an attempt to lash out to both the recipients and their guardians or caregivers for continuing to require this agency to do their job and to deliver the services that are mandated to be offered. Often they refuse a service or assistance out of a lack of knowledge and when presented with the facts on the mandate, or direction from the federal level, they eventually change their plan. They do comply but only after the long task of a lengthy debate and a meeting that usually involves an attorney. They proving that under trained, under educated management and those in positions of Director and other high level management are simply ill-equipped for the job that they hold and that they are being paid to do.
There is no better resource than our federal government to utilize when attempting to get the needed and deserved services that DDS and RSA is mandated to provide. Luckily enough for the person that I have been representing and caring for I have been able to deliver the information that DDS/RSA was missing or not equipped with and they have turned their decision to be one that in the end was acceptable. This should not be the case. But rather our District government agencies should be staffed and managed by competent individuals capable of doing their jobs without delay and compromise to the needs of the individual disabled resident.
With funding now as important as ever, it is very important Chairman Graham that you and your committee take hard look at level of competency first by the Director Laura Nuss and Roy Albert to assure the disabled community that these two are capable of leading an agency with such an arduous chore. Then and only then is it fair to begin to talk about a budget that ultimately will affect our disabled residents due to the level of or mere existence of services. Only if you ensure our disabled community that Laura Nuss and Roy Albert are then capable of overseeing these agencies and assuring that the budge details funds where appropriately they should be can you really detail the oversight of such an agency. Simply put, if the leadership of DDS doesn’t improve and the District government warrants a cut in budget then it should first come from a personnel point of view and not in services administrated to individuals or programs. Our disabled should not fall victim again. They should not fall victim to mismanagement and unprofessional demeanor of anyone from the level of Director down to a counselor. Every disabled resident in the District of Columbia should receive without a long aggravated process the services he or she deserves to receive. This should be done without bias and without consequences of personal feelings or thoughts toward an individual or care giver. Having to debate an issue or the legality of a service to a part of the program funded by DDS or RSA is wrong and in and of itself a waste of budget to include payroll, time, and energy when everyone from the Director down, should be fully aware of the responsibilities of the agency and the very mandate that they have to provide for those with a disability.
There should be no proving one’s eligibility time and time again. There should be no demand for providing paper work numerous times. There should be no lapse in services due to a personal approach being given to that individual rather than a well rounded, well trained counselor engaging with the responsibility and a mid level supervisor standing by to interact when such involvement is needed.
Furthermore, those charged with oversight and management of the entire agency should be well equipped with the knowledge and the passion to serve every resident and to not take a biased approach to personal thoughts about the individuals for any reason. But rather stand ready to serve the residents of the disabled community in a way that they know they are cared for and encouraged to do their best in a society that already is far too judgmental and unaccepting. The very agency, charged with assisting our disabled should be the first defense against the many perils that any disabled person encounters not part of the problem!
So thus Chairman Graham, and members of this committee I challenge you to first look at the agency and how it serves and then devise a budget that is centralized on serving the community that is was conceived to serve. Granting every available dollar first to those that need services and setting the highest standards for those paid to serve.
I thank you for the opportunity to offer my testimony today and trust that what I have said will be on your minds as you move your oversight of this agency forward. Duty calls to you like never before to resolve the many issues and to fund the services our disabled need and deserve.
Posted by Ward 4 at 7:05 AM