January 14, 2010

Statement From Speaker Silver Regarding Temporary Workers

New York State spent over $62 million on contracts with various temporary employment agencies to fill vacant positions in state agencies from April 2008 through November 2009. The Department of Health alone hired hundreds of these employees, amounting to over $13 million in expenditures.

This practice not only contradicts the Executive mandate of a hard hiring freeze, it also appears to allow state agencies to circumvent the Division of Budget approval process for new hires.

In the face of these difficult economic times and in the midst of a state hiring freeze, this is simply unacceptable. Terminating temporary positions statewide would help close the budget gap, improve government transparency and help reestablish New Yorkers' confidence in their government.

Hiring temporary employees to perform services that can and should be done by existing qualified state employees sends the wrong message to our dedicated workforce and should be a concern to all New Yorkers.

I am asking Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chair Denny Farrell to question each agency and department head during the upcoming Assembly/Senate Budget Hearings about their use of outside employment agencies to fill vacancies.

I am also asking Assembly Governmental Employees Committee Chair Peter Abbate to conduct a public hearing on state hiring practices. The purpose of this hearing would be to more closely examine the process by which temporary workers are hired, the premium fee that is paid to outside temporary employment agencies, the length employment and the justification.