What’s happening at the Nevada Department of Administration is another example of why government agencies have a poor reputation.
As the Review-Journal’s Jessica Hill recently exposed, there is a significant backlog in processing worker compensation cases. The first hearing in a case is supposed to take place within a month. Appeals should take place within three months. But attorneys working these cases contend its taking much longer. Getting a hearing scheduled is taking three to four months. In all, around 20,000 injured workers are waiting in the system.
For some, these delays are life-altering and not in a good way. One 61-year-old woman said the wait is causing her to delay needed medical care. Her injury happened two years ago. Her insurance company won’t pay for treatment, contending it should be covered by workers’ compensation. But she can’t count on care under workers’ compensation, because there hasn’t been a final decision in her case. The result is dealing with life-altering pain.
One lawyer said delaying treatment is common for most of his clients, because they don’t have health insurance.
Attorneys working these cases contend that the delay is due in part to sloth among department employees, which appears to start at the top. They hired a private investigator to follow Senior Appeals Officer Michelle Morgando, who runs the department. Over a three-week period this summer, they found she spent around two-thirds of office hours out of the office.
A Department of Administration employee said that apparent apathy has trickled down throughout the department. Without supervision, many employees aren’t working their hardest and also leave the office early.
“We know that the place is an empty ghost town most of the time,” one lawyer said. “If you walked into the building in the middle of the afternoon, it’s a public place, there’s no one in there.”
The department contends that its employees are working remotely and a plan is in place to clear the backlog — eventually. The pandemic contributed to this backlog too.
But at some point — soon — taxpayers need to get their money’s worth.
This isn’t the only agency having problems. Nevada’s unemployment system remains a nightmare. After pressure from Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office, state bureaucrats fast-tracked approval for Northshore Clinical Labs. The company provided coronavirus tests that had a 96 percent error rate. Until it was reported on, Mr. Sisolak hid the scandal.
It’s hard to avoid seeing a pattern here. During Mr. Sisolak’s tenure, poorly run government agencies are a reccurring theme.