Friday, January 4, 2013

Return to Sender

In case you missed it, another agency under that watch of Governor Deval Patrick has been found asleep at the wheel. This time it’s the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and their inability to account for the whereabouts of 19,000 recipients of taxpayer-funded transitional assistance.

Today’s Boston Herald reports that this egregious error was brought to light, inadvertently, through a voter information effort led by the Commonwealth at a cost of $274,000. In reaching out to a reported 477,000 welfare recipients with the hope of obtaining new voter registration, 19,000 “Return to sender, address unknown” envelopes started to appear in the DTA’s mailbox.

In a lackluster statement from the DTA, the agency says “DTA is in the process of contacting those clients for which a forwarding address was provided to verify their addresses, as a change of address might impact their eligibility.” What their response fails to address are their plans for those recipients for whom they didn’t receive forwarding address information. Whether or not they continue to receive their direct-deposit assistance checks is the million dollar question - literally.

Massachusetts’ residents have every right to question the Patrick Administration as to whether or not their tax dollars are being spent wisely. As such, the House Republican Caucus has, and will continue to, lead the charge for substantive reform to the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) system in Massachusetts. However, we cannot do it alone. Democrats on Beacon Hill must start engaging Republicans in targeted measures aimed at fixing the Commonwealth’s EBT system.