When it comes to state government agencies, no one’s picking up the phone.
State Sens. Anthony Bucco (R-25) and Jon Bramnick (R-21) teamed up to issue a statement in the wake of a NJ.com investigation that found many New Jersey state agencies simply weren’t picking up the phone when citizens called for help.
“The press investigation confirms what we’re hearing from constituents that nobody is answering the phone at state agencies,” said Bramnick.
No One’s Home
“How is the Department of Labor still unreachable when the unemployment rate is near its historic low?” added Bucco. “The Murphy administration can’t keep hiding behind the pandemic to say they’re overwhelmed. At a certain point, the administration will have to recognize that it doesn’t have the right staffing in place to serve people.”
NJ Advance Media reportedly made daily phone calls to five state agencies over a 10 business day period in January to test the efficiency of call center operations. In the admittedly unscientific test, the news group made 150 calls in all.
Department’s Called Out
The phone numbers called included:
- The Labor Department
- COVID vaccine hotline
- Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC)
- Rental assistance hotline
- ANCHOR program hotline
One hundred percent of calls placed to the COVID vaccine hotline and the rental assistance hotline resulted in the caller reaching a person, while 100% of ANCHOR program hotline calls resulted in a message to call back the next day.
Eighty-seven percent of calls placed to the Labor Department said to call back tomorrow; 73% of calls placed to MVC resulted in the same. Thirteen percent of calls placed to the Labor Department were offered a callback; 27% were offered the same when calling MVC.
A Legislative Solution
The State Senators’ legislation (S-2430) would establish the independent State Office of the Consumer in the Legislative Branch of State Government.
This new agency would be responsible for conducting phone call assessments of local government, school district, and State offices on routine, periodic, and random timelines. Regulated health insurance companies would be subject to the rules, too.
“Our legislation will help identify with data where the problems are across all levels of government so we can recommend fixes. Passing our bill is the first step in making sure New Jerseyans get the help they need in a timely manner,” said Bucco.
The office will make periodic assessments of the websites of applicable entities, and the director will make monthly reports to the Legislature and the Governor that include the frequency and ease of reaching a live person and user-friendliness of the websites visited during the reporting period.
“If you’re having trouble with unemployment or getting a driver’s license, it’s a huge problem that you can’t call and talk to somebody. It’s more proof that the Legislature needs to pass our bill to create a Consumer Czar to call government entities at the State, county, and local levels to determine who’s reachable,” added Bramnick.
“It’ll be harder for these agencies to say everything is great when we have monthly reports showing that people can’t get through.”
That scumbag “in charge” of the DOL should be fired—it’s another of Murphy’s cronies. I can’t believe the idiots in this state voted for that asshole a second time!