Republicans in Trenton want a new way to ensure residents are being heard when they search for answers to their problems.
A Consumer Czar.
State Sens. Jon Bramnick (R-21) and Anthony Bucco (R-25) want to create the position to know if New Jerseyans can get anyone to pick up the phone when they call government agencies for help.
“It’s time that we have a Consumer Czar to call government entities at the state, county, and local levels to determine whether they respond,” said Bramnick. “The job of the czar is to let the Legislature know if you can get anyone to pick up the phone when you call for help.”
Their new bill, S-2430, would establishes as independent State Office of the Consumer in the legislative branch.
Recalling Pandemic Problems
Bucco noted the frustration of Garden State residents when dealing with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and Department of Labor over the last two years as why the czar is needed.
“We witnessed the long lines at the MVC and heard the horror stories about unemployment during the pandemic,” added Bucco (R-25). “That was first-hand proof that things were really bad. Unfortunately, when you listen to those agency heads, they never really seem to understand how bad it really is.
The Office of the Consumer will be responsible for conducting routine, periodic, and random phone call assessments of local government, school district, and state offices as well as the offices of regulated health insurance companies by calling those offices to determine the responsiveness and accessibility of the office.
Monthly Reports Required
The office will be responsible for periodic assessments of the same cohort by assessing the user-friendliness of the websites.
The director will make monthly reports to the State Senate, Assembly and Governor that include the frequency and ease of reaching a live person to speak to when calling offices and the ease of finding information and user-friendliness of the websites visited during the reporting period.
Bucco said this reporting would provide trustworthy, quantitative data for lawmakers that could help drive and measure the success of reforms to improve government services.
“As legislators, we want trustworthy data that accurately quantifies the extent of the problem and measures the success of various reforms. This legislation will finally provide that source,” said the Morris County lawmaker.