Last Tuesday we had a division wide meeting in my office. Attendance was mandatory as a number of new policies had to be discussed. This pressing, necessary meeting was connived to discuss a new department wide memo regarding: pre-district sheets (fill them out before you hit the field), notfiying your supervisor of any significant changes to your plans (ie: call once a day if you’re not going to be in the office), turn in the timesheets by following tuesday, sign in and out within 48 hours of each work day, lunch is one hour long and do not use the internet unless you are using it for “Business reasons.”
All in all, this is shit we already knew. We had this meeting to reinforce that we County Workers, who one and all who from County-itis (a more grown up form of Senior-itis), were going to be held accountable for our time on the job. Failure to comply would result in “disciplinary action.” The bearer of this news, my DCPO, mentor and friend, apologized for, “Being the bearer of bad news, but none of this is new.”
None of this is new–with the exception of the county policy regarding the internet, as most units just got their first internet-capable PC–so none of this had to be explained this way. The reason why we had to suffer through another round of “accontablity” meetings is simple: Management is being targeted by the county board, and we have to justify all of our expenditures. We have cut support staff, training, mileage and office supplies (personally, most of the pens I have on my desk have been lifted from hotel stays). Next on the cutting block are POs and Programs.
This is bullshit. If the County Board wants to target waste they can hit: The Forest Preserve, The Office of the President and their own bloated staffs. However, shit rolls down hill. Because the President and his Board are at the top of said hill, it can continue to roll down. Management, a tad stained from the pressure created by the board, can continue to pass the buck and “hold us accountable for our time.” We then get to justfy our work in terms of papers generated to show the county board just how hard we are working.
The shit can continue to flow down hill. There are at least two more groups of people who will be affected by the accountability stream flowing from the top of Mount Stroger. Our providers and our clients. We will cut those treatment providers (at least those treatment providers who are not connected to county politics) because we cannot afford to pay them. Our clients will suffer not just from this lack of treatment but also from a lack of contact with their PO. As our paperwork demands increase, we can only cut out client contact. We need to be more “efficient” in our contact. Instead of seeing 7 kids in a day, given them at least 20-30 minutes of our time, we will see 14+ kids a day, to save on travel fees and limit our time out of the office. Time out of the office means less paperwork. Less Paperwork means less bill-able services. I’m not kidding. Bill-able services. Every time I am working on a particular case, the county can apply for reimbursement for said services. These services do not include the three sex offender groups and one individual session I run. Filing and typing reports, however, does count. See the problem here?
This is the managed care approach to civil service. Just like managed health care, its a shitty idea. This is not accountability. It is treating clients as commodities and micro-managing professionals. It is cost cutting measures that impact the people who need services, in order to hire more patronage workers.
In essence, it is bullshit and it is rolling down hill.