Thursday, May 10, 2012

DNR Claims Staff Shortages, Yet Has Exceptional New Hiring Powers

In the wake of a controversial wrist-slap for egregious human waste dumping, Matt Moroney, the DNR's powerful deputy, tells the Journal Sentinel that staff shortages are behind the drop in agency pollution enforcement actions:

In an interview, Moroney predicted more aggressive enforcement by the DNR in the future as vacancies are filled.

"Big picture: Once we get fully staffed, I think you are going to see the number increase," he said.
But remember that Walker, via an Executive Order, gave the DNR special, "charter" status, freeing it from some traditional state government paperwork, including hiring procedures.

The original plan was leaked to me a yer ago - - and I reproduced it just as I got it, with coding glitches - - but here is a key section, cleaned up:
To achieve these goals, DNR will be given management discretion in:

Recruitment and retention of high performing employees;  DNR will be able to utilize merit compensation tools to reward excellence, and retain attract talent;

DNR will be exempted from the state centralized position review ~
Work force alignment - to shift the resources to areas of permit backlogs;
A few months later, The Journal Sentinel wrote:
The state Department of Natural Resources announced a restructuring plan that officials say will make the agency more responsive to the public but won't lead to an easing of environmental regulation...

Also, on its own, the DNR says it will:
  • Simplify regulatory approvals to help speed a growing backlog of applications of water and air permits. A personnel shortage has been responsible for the backlog - a problem now under discussion with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Hire more employees. With a flurry of retirements by baby boomers, the DNR is recruiting for about 150 open positions.
That was 10 months ago. Could it be that the small-government corporate types running the DNR now really don't want to do much 'big government' enforcement?


Dennis Grzezinski said...

You really can't expect too much enforcement if the agency has been told from the top that the "customers" which it is supposed to serve are the polluters or developers who want to make use of the state's natural resources rather than the citizens who depend upon DNR to enforce the state's environmental laws.

Bets said...

"Moroney predicted more aggressive enforcement by the DNR in the future as vacancies are filled.
'Big picture: Once we get fully staffed, I think you are going to see the number increase,' he said."

Understaffing wasn't the problem. Top political appointees looking the other way, IS the problem.

Anonymous said...

DNR is having problems attracting employees. Who wants to work for an environmental agency that doesn't care about the environment? Also the pay and benefits are crappy. It used to be that the benefits and job security made up for the crappy pay but now our benefits stink and, because we are an enterprise agency (a made up designation) there is no job security. So yeah. We are understaffed and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Sue said...

Is JS reporting on the waste dumping yet? Has anyone found out why the original story was pulled?

James Rowen said...

@ Sue: A couple of days ago, here - - - - I included an explanation from the paper's Managing Editor. He said the paper had an agreement w/The State Journal to link to its story only.