EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 24, 2013

Mass. IG finds abuse of temporary staffing in agencies

By Mike Deehan
State House News Service

---- — BOSTON - State investigators have found that some state government agencies rely on temporary hires to fill permanent or long-term positions, sometimes leaving temps on the job for years without any transition to full time.

In a review of 10 state agencies, Inspector General Glenn Cunha’s office found that “limits imposed by the executive branch on hiring permanent employees have led to using temporary employees to meet permanent staffing needs,” and that some agencies are unaware they have the authority to negotiate with staffing vendors for lower contact costs. The Inspector General’s review sought to examine the over $10 million the state spends on temporary staff services each year.

The review measured the amount spent on temporary staffing services between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2012. In addition to identifying cost efficiencies, the report’s authors identified as main goals determining if the state is spending more than is necessary on temporary staffing services and if agencies have employed temporary staff for multi-year assignments.

Cunha and his team reviewed 10 state agencies with the highest numbers of temporary staffing, including the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance and the State Police.

, the Division of Public Licensure, and the Group Insurance Commission. Though the report mentioned these agencies by name, officials from the Inspector General’s office did not respond to requests to identify all 10 agencies reviewed.

Two agencies outside of the top 10, and not identified in the report, were also investigated due to records showing their use of temporary employees for multi-year assignments. Investigators found dozens of workers who have been temporary employees for longer than three years. Ten workers have been on the job as temps for more than 10 years, including six through a federally-funded program within the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission paid for by the Social Security Adminstration.

Some temporary staff have also been paid for holiday and leave time in violation of contracts.

Investigators found that “a key practice shaping how agencies use the temporary help services contract” is the Administration and Finance Department’s policy of capping how many full time employees an agency can have at any one time, known as the Full-Time Equivalent cap.

Cunha said yesterday that when agency managers discovered a position was a necessary one, and that the work had to be done by someone, they sometimes couldn’t turn the job into a full time position due to limits governing the number of full timers on staff.

“Instead of converting it to a full time employee, because a lot of the time they couldn’t because there were limits imposed by Administration and Finance, they just continued to have this person work and one year turned into two, into three,” Cunha said.