Pa. bureau lauded for work to modernize, speed welfare appeals
By Brad Bumsted
Published: Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, 8:37 p.m.
HARRISBURG — Even in a digital age, the Department of Public Welfare took about eight weeks per case to get appeals filed by welfare clients to Commonwealth Court — the enormous amount of photocopying and documentation required slowed the process.
But transmitting case files electronically saved staff about 80 hours of work each week and reduced the time of getting a case to the appeals court to one week.
The Bureau of Hearing and Appeals made it happen. The bureau gets about 78,000 appeals a year from welfare clients challenging decisions.
The electronic transfer system resulted in quicker appeals when people were denied welfare benefits and “less bureaucratic and costly red tape” for taxpayers, Welfare Secretary Gary Alexander said.
Republican Gov. Tom Corbett took notice and presented the Governor's Innovator Award to the bureau — in person — at the Farm Show Complex last summer.
Accepting on behalf of the bureau was Director Tracy Henry, 44, a Philadelphian who dreamed of getting the agency's overall record storage and transmission into electronic form.
The department began working with paperless transcripts in 2011.
“We're not quite there yet,” Henry said.
In a bureaucracy as large as the Department of Public Welfare, Henry knows “we have to take baby steps.”
A nearly 10-year veteran of the agency, Henry said she's proud of receiving the award from Corbett , and she appreciates that she got a copy of the plaque to keep at home as well as one for the office.
“Speeding up the appeals processing time for benefits appeals will pay-off for clients and for taxpayers,” Alexander said.
Brad Bumsted is state Capitol reporter for the Tribune-Review. He can be reached at 717-787-1405 and email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Judge won’t order recalled GM cars to be parked
- Wages have soared in Pittsburgh, but economy appears to have stalled
- Facebook feature lets users locate nearby pals
- Former BP employee settles insider-trading charges
- Target expands subscription service tenfold
- Applications for jobless aid edge up
- Wal-Mart rolls out money transfer service
- Secret Service close to understanding Target data breach
- Emboldened by Italy move, QVC to expand into France
- Mylan wins $106.7M jury verdict against Glaxo
- Consol Energy transitions as leadership changes hands