[nfbmi-talk] System 7 issues

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Wed Dec 15 13:20:17 CST 2010


Doesn't seem to jive with this section from the 107 report:
Data Management


MCB has been using a tailored commercial data management system for its data 
and service records management since 1993.  The latest version is System 7. 
It is a stand-alone, form-driven system that also has the capacity to 
automatically generate many reports.  MCB data are stored in a vendor's 
server instead of in-house and are backed up daily.  Maintenance and on-site 
services are provided by an IT personnel who is not a MCB employee.



The system has five modules serving the VR, IL, SE, Transition Low Vision, 
and OIB service records, respectively.  IL and OIB modules operate similarly 
to that of VR.  TLV and MCBTC modules were still in the development stage at 
the time of the on-site review.



The system's database is web-based, and, therefore, provides easy access for 
agency staff.   Each consumer profile is linked to consumer's service 
vendors and costs.  The data accuracy check includes flags for data element 
control.  MCB will add a tickler function in its next version to remind 
counselors of the key dates.  Currently, the system has the capacity to 
generate many standardized reports and can be exported into multiple formats 
such as Word, Excel, and PDF.  Managers and administrators use the caseload 
productivity report for their monthly management meeting.  All managers and 
counselors can run their own queries as well.



The system vendor provides training to the MCB staff whenever there is an 
upgrade between two systems, which usually is two days.  Training of new and 
existing counselors and supervisors on daily operation is provided by the IT 
personnel.  Supervisors of new counselors provide training on application 
details.



Quality Assurance


Although MCB has a QA system, the processes of that system are not 
integrated sufficiently to evaluate program or fiscal performance 
effectively or efficiently.  As a result, MCB cannot assess service delivery 
provided internally, including services provided at MCBTC, or externally 
through the CRPs, independent contractors, and "cash match" agreements.  MCB 
relies almost exclusively on anecdotal information received from discussions 
with consumers and staff rather than balancing this input with quantitative 
data.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Larry Posont" <president.nfb.mi at gmail.com>
To: "NFBofMichigan List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:36 AM
Subject: [nfbmi-talk] System 7 issues


> National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
>
> 20812 Ann Arbor Trail
>
> Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
>
>
>
> December 15, 2010
>
>
>
> Dear Jo Ann,
>
>
>
> Below are 2 emails from 2 of the most dedicated people in the MCB.  They 
> are speaking out about one more system within MCB that is
> broken.  As you are aware, much of the relationship with RSA is data 
> driven.  That is, the agency performance is measured and
> evaluated in quantitative measures.  There are few, if any qualitative 
> measures.
>
>
>
> The RSA recently completed a monitoring report which was a very poor 
> reflection on the agency.  As you read the comments from Karyn
> Silky, you can sense her frustration as she tries to do her work and 
> cannot do it efficiently and meet the demands of the
> administrative management information system (System 7).  As she points 
> out, even the accounting is broken.  She cannot charge costs
> to the proper accounts.  If these are not caught and manually corrected, 
> RSA will, again, find that MCB is misappropriating funds.
> The bottom line here is that System 7 is failing.
>
>
>
> If that were the only major administrative problem in MCB it would be very 
> serious and demand immediate and drastic action.
> Unfortunately, this is only one among at least 4 other systems that have 
> failed within the past year.  Or should I say, more
> correctly, which have been reported in the past year.  Certainly the 
> monitoring report covers a broader time span and shows ongoing
> mismanagement by the Director.
>
>
>
> Here is a brief recap of some of the failed and broken systems at MCB:
>
>
>
>  1.. 37 MCBTC staff are sitting idle and did so all last week at a cost of 
> more than $75000/week, because there was inadequate
> planning to anticipate issues that may arise in commencing a major 
> construction project.  This project has been in some stage of
> planning since around 2005; it did not sneak up on anyone.  This failure 
> alone ought to be enough to demand drastic action from the
> board.  It is easy to predict that Pat will blame Melody Lindsey, 
> Christine Boone or Sherri Heibeck.  He will not ever take
> responsibility for anything.  Who is accountable?
>
>
>  2.. The Business Enterprise Program is in meltdown.  With 15 facilities 
> on the bid line and not enough blind people trained to
> fill these positions it is just going to continue to cause major problems 
> for MCB.  Sooner or later, there will be a major incident
> someplace which will create public relations problems and possibly attract 
> negative legislature attention.
>
>
> The last BEP training class of only 8, had no one in charge.  Trainees 
> were left to sit unsupervised with no assignments and no
> oversight.  An interpreter at $40/hour was allowed to sit while the person 
> for whom they were to interpret had no activity.   Fred
> Wurtzel, the retired BEP administrator called James Hull and offered to 
> supervise the class during John McEntee's absence.  No
> teacher was apparently better than a 20 year veteran.  There have been 
> talks of early retirements for years.  It could be
> anticipated that such an event would occur, yet there was absolutely no 
> planning.  This is difficult to understand, since placements
> of blind clients are down and there allegedly very few jobs, except there 
> 15, today in the Business Enterprise Program.  Who will
> take the fall for this.  Will anyone take responsibility?  Will anyone be 
> held accountable?  Certainly not Pat Cannon, Heaven
> forbid.
>
>
>
>  3.. The RSA monitoring report showed a monumental lack of oversight and 
> numerous instances of violations of the law and rules.  It
> is alleged that RSA is wrong and MCB is not to blame.  It is doubtful if 
> this argument will hold water.  Consumers have brought many
> of these issues to the attention of the Commission Board, the MCB director 
> and various staff people over the years.  Some of these,
> consumers could not easily detect, like misappropriation of funds by 
> serving ineligible clients below the age of 14.  Pat alleged in
> a meeting with the NFB that he provided a copy of the preliminary 
> monitoring report to you, Jo Ann, more than a year ago.  You have
> denied having a copy.  I'm not sure of the truth, here.  It certainly 
> appears that Pat is, again, dumping responsibility on you and
> not taking his own responsibility.  Who will be blamed for this? Will it 
> be Leamon, the MCB Board, and the counselors or, as we
> heard, it is RSA's fault.  Amazing!
>
>
>  4.. Back to System 7.  This is the very heart of managing the MCB.  RSA 
> will use data from System 7 to evaluate the agency
> performance.
>
>
>  5..
>
>
>  6.. Yesterday, in the Services Delivery Design Team meeting staff 
> expressed much dissatisfaction with System 7 and MAIN. it was
> mentioned that blind staff, after how many years, now, still cannot  do 
> many of the administrative tasks which most state employees
> must do either as a regular part of their job or as incidental parts of 
> carrying out their duties.  For example blind staff in state
> government cannot even complete their own time sheets, let alone do a 
> large number of tasks required for state jobs.  The Commission
> may become the only place where blind people can work if they need to use 
> MAIN. The whole "MAIN" system is inaccessible and Pat
> cannon is the state ADA coordinator.  Michigan is at risk for a giant ADA 
> suit such as the ones in Arkansas and New york.  These
> states had exactly the same problem with their statewide accounting 
> systems.  Is the Governor aware of this threat?  Pat Cannon
> cannot even advocate for his agencies' constituency, himself or anyone 
> else it seems.  Who is at fault for this system failure?  It
> must be Connie Zanger, right?  She has been doing the job for the past few 
> months and did not fix it.  Or, could it be Sherri
> Heibeck?  She was in charge for several years.  Or is it Libera?  Did they 
> follow the MCB specifications incorrectly?  Or, is it
> DTMB for not monitoring the system progress.  Oh, how about Pat Cannon? 
> Could he, as administrator be accountable?  No, he is no
> computer guru, so it must be someone else.
>
>
> These are just 4, (did I say "just" 4?) items that, in most places of 
> employment just 1 problem of the magnitude of these would have
> caused major disciplinary action, that are plaguing MCB  Yet, given all 
> these, you just gave this man a satisfactory job rating.
> This seems inconceivable.
>
>
>
> How about some other items like the firing of Christine Boone on false 
> pretenses with no MCB Board oversight, though the board is
> the direct supervisor of the Director and P.A. 260 calls for such 
> oversight, 2 instances of breaking and entry into the MCB office
> where computers were stolen, allegations of misuse of travel by a staff 
> person, questions about BEP inventories, questions about bep
> judge shopping resulting in overturned administrative hearings?  How many 
> more do you need?
>
>
>
> Read both Bernie's and Karin's messages.  They are afraid of reprisals. 
> Pat Cannon has managed by bullying and intimidation.  Why
> should an employee be afraid to report problems with the software they are 
> depending on to do their jobs?  This is the very software
> the agency will depend on to report accurately to RSA to account for the 
> $20 million the agency is entrusted with each year to serve
> blind people.  Fear is the management style of preference and as you can 
> see from the list above it is not very effective as a
> strategy.  When will someone take responsibility?  Are blind people so 
> inconsequential that a person earning more than 120000 per
> year is allowed to behave in any manner they choose wit impunity?
>
>
>
> It is up to you.  We are depending on you as the legally appointed body to 
> oversee the Commission to take charge.  When will this
> madness stop and who will stop it?
>
>
>
> Sincerely
>
>
>
> Larry Posont, President
>
> National Federation of the Blind of Michigan
>
> 517-482-1800
>
> Email: president.nfb.mi at gmail.com
>
> Web page
>
> www.nfbmi.org
>
>
>
> Subject: RE: System 7 issues
>
> All,
>
> Good afternoon.
>
> Is this another case of Manager's making decisions WITHOUT ANY INPUT OF
>
> STAFF?
>
> I can't even count the number of times we have just shoved stuff down the 
> chain,
>
> (in our case the West Region) to Field
>
> Staff and
>
> Administrative Support
>
> .
>
> What affect does this have on the overall push down to us; to increase 
> Competitive
>
> Closures?
>
> There most surely is POLITIC with this latest decision to revamp System 7? 
> It must
>
> have to do with funding to LIBERA?  Appease RSA?
>
> Does anyone hear, or read of staff and
>
> administrative support
>
> input to the latest from Libera?  Does anyone care about this
>
> Staff
>
> ; BUT, particularly here in the West Region?  Kisiel and I do!  Some of 
> the West
>
> Staff may not agree with me; and that's OK.
>
> How much more can this agency from Commissioner's, right down thru the 
> "THE CHAIN
>
> OF COMMAND" ask of this
>
> Staff?
>
> For one time can we be straight and honest to the hardest worker's we 
> have?  OK;
>
> worker's may not be a good title but is this how MANAGEMENT sees it's
>
> front line employees
>
> ?   Sherry Gordon, Lisa Kisiel and the writer have always tried to put our
>
> STAFF first.  We tried
>
> but maybe never enough
>
> , to stand up to what we felt was right?   I always lived with FEAR, i.e., 
> what can
>
> "they" do to me?  And, I am a former Colonel in the United States Army.
>
> I have sat by for many days now; first thinking WHAT CAN THEY DO TO ME if 
> I respond?
>
>  In good
>
> conscience I have to
>
> !  I have the highest of respect for the professionalism that Karyn Silky 
> and ALL
>
> STAFF of this agency bring to the table.
>
> For so many years I supported the Director's approach which began upon 
> arrival in
>
> 1999.  As a Manager I became a learning person as was suggested to me, not 
> by my
>
> Boss then; but the Director.  Eleven years ago I honored that attempt.
>
> It pains me to see after these eleven years, that I have to ask;
>
> have we made any progress
>
> ?  THIS IS A BURNED OUT FIELD STAFF in the West Region.
>
> BERNIE P. KRAMER
>
> West Region Manager
>
> Michigan Commission For The Blind
>
> 350 Ottawa NW
>
> Grand Rapids, MI
>
> 616-356-0183
>
> Subject: System 7 issues
>
> Julia,
>
> First, thanks for being patient with all of us as we struggle through this 
> mess.
>
> My comments below are not directed toward you, please know that.
>
> My first question is why can't we be allowed to view all consumers who are 
> in the
>
> System?  I needed to check to see if someone from the other side of the 
> state was
>
> currently open etc. for a new referral that came in with the same first 
> and last
>
> name, and I was not able to view any case information because I wasn't 
> assigned to
>
> the case.
>
> If the response is that the counselor assigned to the case must change it, 
> then this
>
> is just not acceptable.  What if the counselor/teacher doesn't do it in a 
> timely
>
> fashion?  What if the person assigned to the case has retired?  Doesn't 
> Libra understand
>
> how this complicates service delivery for consumers?  Not everyone sits at 
> their
>
> desk 8-10 hours per day - most, if not all of us, are out in the field for 
> the majority
>
> of the week.
>
> Secondly - why can't our support staff be able to do IPE amendments for 
> counselors/teachers?
>
> Apparently the counselor/teacher assigned to the case must do the IPE 
> amendment,
>
> approve it then our support staff can follow through and do an 
> authorization.  Again,
>
> this is not allowing us to do our jobs in a timely manner.  It's not that 
> support
>
> staff are actually writing the auth - it's that some of us might 
> call/email in a
>
> request to have support staff input the information into system, with all 
> the particulars,
>
> when we can't access or get to the system for various reasons like being 
> on the road.
>
> If timely service delivery is being asked of staff, this problem does not 
> make it
>
> very feasible.  It's insane that all of the methods we used to have in the 
> old version
>
> aren't still there.  The new requirement to go into the IPE and Amendments 
> and date
>
> when services were rendered and the outcomes is also a huge issue.  How 
> are we supposed
>
> to know when this has been done if we didn't have the case when original 
> services
>
> were planned?  This process does not make our system "efficient" - it is 
> taking an
>
> incredible amount of time for staff to even do a simple IPE amendment. 
> Case note
>
> entries should document that services were rendered.  Sounds to me like 
> someone doesn't
>
> want to review case files to get this information and want a "quick fix".
>
> I'm concerned that management does not have a full grasp on how difficult 
> this "upgrade"
>
> has made our jobs.  I would suggest that those supervisors without case 
> loads sit
>
> down and try to muddle through this mess and get things done in a timely 
> fashion.
>
> I mean actually try to write an IPE amendment, try to print one out and 
> see what
>
> happens, try to do an authorization, add a new consumer, try to find an 
> existing
>
> consumer etc. . .   and do this without having all the rights that you 
> likely would
>
> have.  The upgrade is not acting like it did in training nor is it working 
> like it
>
> did during the testing phase.  I'm appalled that there doesn't seem to be 
> an upper
>
> management statement being made to Libra about the urgency of fixing these 
> issues
>
> if not taking us back to the old way of doing things.  If it is being done 
> on the
>
> Director or upper management level, it would be nice for staff to know 
> that this
>
> is happening - communicate with us on what is being asked to be fixed or 
> corrected,
>
> let us know that you are all supporting our concerns.  I know that I am 
> speaking
>
> for most if not all of my colleagues when I say that we are fed up, tired 
> and angry
>
> with what has been occurring.
>
> My last issue is huge and has been asked of Libera already, but is 
> creating a serious
>
> problem - staff (all staff) must be able to plan and do authorizations 
> from the appropriate
>
> accounting codes.  Can't anyone see that when authorizations are being 
> done, they
>
> are being pulled from AARA funds versus VR because it can't be changed? 
> What about
>
> YLV students - what if they are VR and we need to do both YLV 
> authorization as well
>
> as a VR service?  It won't let you do this.  Why are we being required to 
> do ILOB
>
> plans when only IL was supposed to have plans.  While I'm on it, what is 
> the definition
>
> of an IL consumer versus a homemaker?  When do we serve someone as IL and 
> not VR
>
> homemaker?   This question was asked during the testing phase of the 
> upgrade when
>
> we learned there would be a split in the funding for IL/ILOB.  That was 
> months ago.
>
> How can you implement a new approach to fund and serve IL/ILOB without 
> defining for
>
> us what that means?  Leamon, you must address this issue because there 
> will be and
>
> possibly are consumers out there not getting services through general IL 
> who have
>
> the right to services and/or are being put in the wrong program.
>
> This "upgrade" is not an upgrade - it is a completely new system. 
> Upgrades only
>
> fix minor issues - not create disasters.
>
> I feel sorry for whoever will be in charge of gathering financial data at 
> the end
>
> of Fiscal 2011 because the way things are going, nothing will be accurate.
>
> My appeal to all staff who are trying to use this system is this - if you 
> are struggling
>
> with all of these issues, let management know directly via email or phone 
> calls.
>
> Specific issues must be identified to them and how it is impacting your 
> job, how
>
> long it is taking to do tasks (literally track the time) is absolutely 
> necessary
>
> in order for users of the system to get our point across.
>
> I might be putting my neck on the line sending this, but frankly, I don't 
> care anymore.
>
> Karyn
>
>
> --
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