by: Richard Belcher Updated:
ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has learned the state is ordering mandatory overtime and suspending vacations for hundreds of state workers in the state Division of Family and Children Services.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher found out the reason is a huge backlog in food stamp and welfare cases caused by a faulty enrollment system.
Channel 2 Action News has detailed the maddening wait times which confront tens of thousands of program recipients trying to use the system called Georgia One.
The state Department of Human Resources is treating the backlog as an emergency, but our whistleblower sent records suggesting the state is intentionally understating the problem.
“We are weekly, aggressively seeking solutions to address this problem,” said Susan Boatwright, spokeswoman for DFCS, told us last month.
Now a whistleblower has given Channel 2 Action News a memo showing what the state DFCS is doing to try to ease the backlog and how far behind the agency had gotten.
The memo written last week by state DFCS director Sharon Hill says the backlog was 110,000 cases as of Feb. 1.
She writes that it dropped to 81,000 cases in March.
But our whistleblower sent an official chart that put the backlog at 166,811 people in March, more than double what Hill wrote.
The memo goes on to say, “This backlog resembles other emergency efforts we have been involved with.”
Hill then ordered staff to work a minimum of eight hours overtime per week beginning March 8.
A separate email ordered, “All March leave (annual and sick) has been suspended due to the significant problem we have with our cases.”
Tyesha Goodman of Lithonia says whatever it takes, DFCS needs to fix it.
“You would be on the phone waiting for about three hours, and then, once somebody finally answered then they would hang up on you,” Goodman said.
Our source also said April vacations may be on the line if the backlog isn't brought to a manageable level. But the signs aren't encouraging.
Last saturday, a lot of people showed up for mandatory overtime -- only to sit around for hours because a DFCS computer wasn't working. We're told the same system will be down all of the coming weekend.