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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Interview with Suzanne Bump

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MASSPIRG spent the last few weeks registering students to vote during various events on campus

Could you tell me about your background before you entered public service?

 

I went to college. Right out of college I went to the State House to be a legislative aide. I spent six years as aide to the State Representative from Braintree. When she retired I ran for her seat and won. I was a state representative for eight years, until I lost re-election in 1993. I had spent those years studying law at night, so after that I worked as a lawyer in different ways: I worked for non-profits and small businesses, started my own firm, started a non-profit that provides alcohol and drug recovery services to women… I joined Deval Patrick’s administration as Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development.

 

What do you feel could work better in government?

 

I feel the accountability of state government is not where it should be. There needs to be greater emphasis on efficient delivery of services. Many problems lie in how government is structured. Legislators look at achieving policy goals; they don’t necessarily think about government bureaucracy and how well agencies need to collaborate. They are very good at creating separate agencies that are walled-off from others. That can lead to duplication of effort, or result in a legal inability for agencies to coordinate. As auditor, I want to look not just at the financial accountability of agencies but at their accountability in terms of results and to determine what are the obstacles to getting better results.

 

What would your agenda be should you take office?

 

I have three motivating beliefs. One, the general public needs to appreciate that there is someone in state government looking out for their interests. Two, they should be able to believe that a dollar they give to state government will be a dollar well-spent by government. Third, whether you are a taxpayer or not, anybody who relies on a government service shouldn’t fear that the service will be compromised because a bureaucracy will fail them or a contractor will rip off the system.

 

For example, we have several separate bureaucracies that are all providing a piece of the healthcare puzzle: we have Medicaid, the Medical Security program, the Massachusetts Healthcare Connector, the Health Safety Net… we have all of these separate bureaucracies that don’t interact with one another. It’s a system that has tremendous administrative costs, many unnecessary. It provides tremendous obstacles to people trying to comply with the law and get health insurance. This [is] a system that needs to be streamlined and put back on track.

 

One small example: as Labor secretary, I managed six agencies, it started out as eight; I consolidated some. We saved millions of dollars simply by moving from issuing unemployment checks to direct deposit. Millions more will be saved when we move to debit cards. Using technology to make it more convenient for the recipients of unemployment and saving money at the same time… that’s an example of where there’s waste.