Former agency board member praises review
Independent study of management will be conducted by Springsted Inc.
By Ben Orcutt — firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL — A former member of the Warren County Social Services board of directors has high praise for the recent decision for an independent review of the agency.
On June 2, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to hire Minnesota-based Springsted Inc. to conduct an organizational management study of the agency at a cost not to exceed $9,975, plus expenses.
The study will help the county evaluate management and operating policies of the department to determine if it is adhering to established guidelines and whether any improvements are needed.
County Administrator Douglas P. Stanley has said the process will involve conducting confidential interviews with current employees and former workers who have left within the past 36 months. Alleged cases of mismanagement within the department also will be reviewed.
Confidential surveys will be given to the agency’s staff to gather information on the administration of internal policies. Springsted will look to begin its study on Monday and finish it by the end of August.
Richard P. “Dick” Braatz resigned from the agency board on May 29, 2007, after having just been reappointed to his second four-year term.
Braatz sent Board of Supervisors Chairman Archie A. Fox a letter dated June 9 congratulating the supervisors on their unanimous vote on the Springsted review of social services.
“You have clearly shown that you recognize your role is not to determine the merits of any claim or accusation,” Braatz says, “but to review as Elected County Executives, what has been happening, why this has been happening, the depth to what has been happening, why for so long, and to then take corrective action.”
Braatz goes on to suggest that someone from the county’s finance department who has no political ties, but who is knowledgeable about administrative and auditing procedures, be the county’s point person with Springsted during the review.
“For the integrity of the review, confidentiality will also be essential because of past court proceedings, Grand Juries and accusations of intimidation and retaliation,” Braatz adds. “I am confident that you will work to make sure any surveys and interviews are for ‘the hears and ears only’ of the Springsted professional staff. That completed surveys, even with names deleted, will not be made available to others, including the DSS and DSS Board.”
Braatz said Wednesday that he is confident in Fox’s ability to shepherd the Springsted review.
“Archie Fox, chairman of the board, has demonstrated a cool head and provided the leadership to help sort through all this and I’m confident that he’s gonna continue to do so,” Braatz said.
Fox said he is confident Springsted will conduct a thorough review.
“I’m very confident of Springsted because I understand that they have the personnel that have dealt with these type of problems before,” Fox said. “So I’m very confident that they will give us an evaluation that is very fair.”
Ben Weddle, a former Shenandoah District supervisor who is the president of Warren Taxpayers for Responsible Government, a group that had been calling for an independent review of the department, also is pleased with the supervisors’ decision.
“I was pleased and surprised that they voted unanimously,” Weddle said. “I don’t know how Springsted was selected. They appear to be pretty thorough.”
Weddle said he also is pleased that the Springsted review will continue after July 1, when social services employees will be protected by the state’s Fraud and Abuse Whistleblower Protection Act that goes into effect the first of next month.
Ricardo Perez, who was the director of the Prince William County Department of Social Services for 27 years and is now an independent consultant, said he will be meeting with Springsted officials today to determine what role he may play in the review of the Warren County agency.
John Anzivino, a senior vice president for Springsted who works in the company’s Richmond office, said he is confident his firm will conduct a thorough review of the Warren County Department of Social Services.
“Well, first of all, we’ve been in business for over 50 years working with local and state governments,” Anzivino said. “And secondly, we have stated what we will do in the work plan, which was approved by the county, which we feel is very thorough and will provide them the analysis that they’re expecting.”