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May 13, 2013

Host: Ted Simons

DES Restructuring

  |   Video
  • The Department of Economic Security plans to reinvent the safety net system. The changes will emphasize how DES can help its clients and also reduce their dependency. Arizona DES Director Clarence Carter will discuss the changes.
  • Clarence Carter - DES Director, Arizona
Category: Government   |   Keywords: department, economic, security, DES, systems, change,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon," I'm Ted Simons. State lawmakers will be hit with an automatic cut in pay this week as the legislative session drags on past the -day mark. Lawmakers get a $ per day per diem for expenses, and that'll be cut to $10 per day. Lawmakers from other counties will see their expense pay fall from $60 per day to $20 per day starting tomorrow. Last week Department of Economic Security Director Clarence Carter announced a pilot program to streamline the delivery of state welfare services and help get people off of assistance. Joining me now to talk about his plans to revamp DES is Director Clarence Carter. Thanks for joining us.

Clarence Carter: My pleasure.

Ted Simons: Reinvent Arizona safety system. What are we talking about here?

Clarence Carter: Ted, we're talking about currently the safety net is an aggregation of single-purpose programs. Each program addresses a singular aspect of the human condition. I don't know if it's the food stamp program or housing or on and on and on, the programs are designed to address one aspect of the human condition. They were not designed to work in conjunction and so it becomes difficult for an individual, and many of those that the safety net serves need multiples of those remedies. It becomes difficult to work those together to help increase that person's functioning and reduce their dependency. Our initiative here is about knitting together those programs, and then having the intention of not just delivering a benefit, good or service, but actually in the context help to grow the functioning of that person and ultimately reduce their dependency.

Ted Simons: We're talking 40 some-odd agencies, mostly working in silos. That's a lot of agencies, a lot of interaction. Is this an overview, a 30,000-foot-level kind of idea? What's going on here?

Clarence Carter: Of course it is driven by a 30,000-foot vision, but the work is to try to make this all practical. This is not something that we can only do from the state level, because most of these safety net programs are authorized by the federal government. And so we have both a state and a federal component of this work. Next week we will go to -- we'll go to Washington and lay out the case for this reinvention with the federal government.

Ted Simons: I want to talk about those federal waivers in a second here. First, back to the idea of working together, people-centric models.

Clarence Carter: That's right. Currently the way our system operates, we focus on the objective of the program, okay? We meet the mandate of whatever the program is. Our argument is that we ought to focus on the need of the individual, and bring the mandates of the program through the need of the individual. It ought to ultimately be our intention to help that person remediate this circumstance in their life, so that the safety net is only a mile marker in life's journey, not ultimately a destination.

Ted Simons: Is that remediation not going on now?

Clarence Carter: No, it's not. Again, the intention of the system, what we are currently held accountable for, if the delivery of the benefit, good or service, if I get you your SNAP or food stamp benefit, I have achieved success. There is no further look-back at what we do then to help you not need that benefit. So we are held accountable for the efficient and effective delivery of benefits, goods and services, not whether or not people get better for the delivery of those services.

Ted Simons: But some would question whether or not the Department of Economic Security should be involved in anything other than delivering these services. Is that not job one?

Clarence Carter: It is job one. But we believe there ought to be a complementary job with job one, and it shouldn't be job one only.

Ted Simons: How do you do that? If I get food stamps or other forms of assistance, I come to DES, I need for them to be delivered, and then what?

Clarence Carter: The first thing we do then is of course we determine whether or not you are eligible to receive the benefit, good or service. This approach has us doing a 360-degree environmental scan of you and your family to determine, why is it that you are in this circumstance. While we deliver the benefit, good or service, we also have a plan, a person-centered plan based on your circumstances, to grow your capacity to ultimately eliminate the need for you to have this benefit, good or service.

Ted Simons: Is this the kind of thing where, if I had been injured, if I had some health problems, if I had not worked in two or three years, you would look and say --

Clarence Carter: I would look at those and say, all of those elements are part of your environmental scan. We have to take into account all of those things, to help you figure out how to grow beyond this moment in your life.

Ted Simons: I've heard some criticism of this saying it's a good idea but really not new. The idea has always been to get folks off of assistance as best you can. But the process of delivery is so all-encompassing it's difficult to go to job 1-A, as opposed to making sure job one is done, which should help with remediation.

Clarence Carter: Ted, we don't believe that our approach is Orwellian. It's not a new idea. It is simply something that the safety net is not held accountable for doing. So we believe that all we need to do is to learn from and apply an awful lot of other principals and processes that exist, with the intention of growing people beyond the safety net.

Ted Simons: There is accountability here? Are there metrics involved?

Clarence Carter: Part of it is developing metrics. We need to develop a set of metrics by which we will measure the growth of our consumers. So we have -- Arizona State University is one of our partners, they are sort of our academic laboratory around this. So we will be developing those metrics. And then measuring our success against those metrics for how we're growing the capacity of people and reducing their dependency.

Ted Simons: When you announced the program, one of the quotes I thought was interesting, we pay for things that are quite frankly stupid. Explain.

Clarence Carter: Okay. So let me use one particular example, okay? I will take the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the SNAP program. We pay in the SNAP program for states to increase the number of people who are on the rolls. There's a rationale for that, and the rationale is that we want to make sure that everybody who needs the life-sustaining support around nutrition, that they are able to get that. But we actually pay to increase the SNAP rolls, while we don't commensurately pay to do anything to help people grow beyond that. And I could go through our contracting models and show you any number of things where we are -- we get what we pay for. But we are not asking for helping that individual to get better. We're just asking for the administration of that particular benefit, good or service.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, how difficult is it to shift the culture here?

Clarence Carter: This is a Herculean undertaking. I would -- I will tell you that in , President Reagan said the welfare system was debilitating to the individual, the heart, soul, mind, it was bad economics. That launched years of state demonstrations that ended up 16 years later in the 1996 Welfare Reform Initiative. So that was one federal program that literally took 16 years to ultimately reform. We don't believe that what we are engaged in here is something that's going to have to be done tomorrow afternoon. We believe that we are calling Arizona to the work, and we will create the demonstration laboratory that ultimately will result in reform.

Ted Simons: Talk about the demonstration laboratory, the project. How many people involved, how long will it take, what are you looking fo?

Clarence Carter: In our demonstration there will be a thousand in our control group and a thousand in our treatment group. We will use these metrics that we develop and look at, are we able to move the needle for the individuals that we serve, as opposed to the thousand that are in the control group.

Ted Simons: I still see, though, a person out there whose needle can't be moved. I just wondered, does the whole system become a failure if people aren't moving past dependency? What do you do for those who either don't, can't or won't move past that?

Clarence Carter: Well, first of all, we believe that we can increase everyone's functioning. Can we move everyone off the rolls? No, we cannot. There are individuals who are always going to need some degree of public support. But the idea that is we should be intentional about increasing the functioning of all that we can, so that we can -- we can reduce their dependency. We don't see this as a panacea, it's simply something vital to be added to the safety net. The Arizona safety net should be a trampoline, not a hammock.

Ted Simons: So with that is mind, what kind of impact will this have on your budget?

Clarence Carter: Ted, in the short term we don't see this having a budgetary impact at all. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that we have all the money that we need. I'm going to say the same thing I've said when I've been with you about our child welfare system. I was not going to ask for more until I could make an evidence-based ask. That took a little while to do. But ultimately that wound up in the Governor's ask for significant CPS resources. Similarly, here, we're going to demonstrate this model within our existing budgetary constraints, and then we will come back at some other time, if we believe we need more resources.

Ted Simons: But there is a possibility of target moving here, if federal waivers are not -- that does become a variable here, doesn't it?

Clarence Carter: That's exactly correct. We aren't going to go to the federal government. There are waivers and work-arounds that this demonstration does from existing federal regulation and policy. So we're going to go to D.C., put together a federal policy team to assist us with those waivers.

Ted Simons: Last question. You mentioned that changing the culture was a Herculean task. Starting to flex the muscles a little bit?

Clarence Carter: Just a little bit. It's muscles flexed in terms of something that has to be done for socially and economically challenged Arizonans. It's not about me flexing my muscles, it's about Arizona flexing its muscles on behalf of those in need.

Ted Simons: Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Clarence Carter: Ted, my pleasure, good to be here with you this afternoon.

Metro Phoenix Homeland Security

  |   Video
  • In light of the recent bombing in Boston, we take a look at the status of homeland security in the Phoenix area. Grants from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have been reduced in recent years. Scott Krushak, the Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Phoenix, and Mesa City Councilman Scott Somers, who is also a firefighter, will talk about the status of homeland security for the Valley.
  • Scott Krushak - Emergency Management Coordinator, City of Phoenix
  • Scott Somers - Councilman, City of Mesa
Category: Government   |   Keywords: phoenix, homeland, security, boston, valley,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The recent bombings in Boston were a stark reminder that the threat of terrorist activity on U.S. soil is still very much alive. Efforts to keep the Phoenix area safe from attacks continue on a variety of levels, though there is concern over recent drops in federal Homeland Security funds. For more on this we're joined by Mesa city councilman and firefighter Scott Somers. Also joining us, Scott Krushak, the emergency management coordinator for the City of Phoenix. Good to have you here. Let's start with an overview, the status of Homeland Security in the Phoenix area.

Scott Somers: Well, Homeland Security dollars have shrunk about 60% to our region over the last two years. So that's something to be concerned about. But we're utilizing those dollars to build really a regional capability, regional capacity to respond to incidents of national significance, like the bombing attack you saw in Boston.

Ted Simons: Is that different from what we've seen in years past?

Scott Somers: The regional approach is something that the federal government has been really keen on through the national preparedness goal. We have seen far more in the Valley than you have nationally. We really are one of the best at taking a regional approach through fire, police and our health care system.

Ted Simons: Has Homeland Security in your mind overall -- we'll talk about the funding in a second -- strengthened, weakened, changed? What have you seen?

Scott Krushak: It's changed over the years. It's really evolved. We came out of 9/11 with really a not good understanding of terrorism and how things should be. We had very traditional systems, poor information sharing. Our response systems worked independently in silos. The regionalization meant the whole community, whole response, all hazards approach didn't really exist. We're in a different world now. Things are way different than they were pre-9/11. I have to say from my perspective we're better.

Scott Somers: Particularly local police agencies, federal and state agencies, these grants have really helped to train local officers, and it's helped fund information sharing centers and fusion centers, which have been seen as best practice in the industry.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, who's in charge? State? County? City? Feds? Who calls the shots here?

Scott Krushak: Depends on who you ask. The reality is everything starts at the local level. From us in the City of Phoenix, if we have an event in our city, we are in charge. We do not relinquish that. You've seen that, in the recent event in Boston. Boston is in charge of that. FBI and supporting agencies come in, 9/11, who was in charge? Very clearly the mayor of that city was in charge of that event. And nobody was going to take that, one of the biggest acts of terrorism in the world, nobody took that away. It happens locally with support.

Ted Simons: Talk about response capabilities here. Community emergency response teams, what are we seeing right now? Give a team grade.

Scott Somers: Give a team grade of A. These have been graded by the Department of Homeland Security in as innovative best practices. Things to be replicated throughout the United States. That's what's happening here in the Valley. We have one of the best response systems in the country.

Ted Simons: We have one of the best response systems in the country. Do we have enough equipment? Do we have enough training? Kind of easing back to this federal funding situation.

Scott Krushak: We're in a really interesting situation right now, because this happened, 9/11 was a while back, things change. Equipment wears out. People go out of the system. So we need to maintain and sustain current capabilities and capacities. And so we have to keep going. We have to keep doing this. If we don't, bad things will happen and we won't be prepared because we won't have trained people and current equipment.

Scott Somers: Right. One of the programs suffering right now is the metropolitan medical response system, set up to handle mass casualty incidents in the country. Phoenix is one of those MMRS units. Mesa also has one. We're finding because MMRS, that funding was zeroed out in the budget last year. We're having difficulty replacing our medications, like these antidote kits that I brought with me. We carried them on nearly every truck in Mesa, we're now down 30% because most of them are out of date and we're having to consolidate.

Ted Simons: As far as other equipment, I think we had an example here earlier today, brought in what looks like a bomb detonation suit? What are we looking at?

Scott Somers: It's an explosive ordinance disposal suit that we purchased, you can see it on your screen. Mesa Police Department's bomb suit. These bomb suits are no doubt expensive. But the EOD team is really an example of that regional cooperation we have across jurisdictional boundaries. We only have five EOD teams. Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Mesa, I think the sheriff's office has one, and the department of public safety has one throughout the state. But not every department can afford that. Not every department can afford to have a hazardous materials team. These are teams that respond throughout the Valley and the state, wherever the emergency is.

Ted Simons: What are the urban area security initiative grant?

Scott Krushak: That is me.

Ted Simons: That's you, congratulations.

Scott Krushak: Thank you. I am the coordinator for that. The initiative is major metropolitan areas across the United States. Originally it was about 64, that recently got cut to about 31, 32 . And those 30 now are the major areas where the possibility and the risk and threat and consequence from national level acts of terrorism would exist. So those are specific within jurisdictions. Regionally here, City of Phoenix, Maricopa County, Phoenix area urban security initiative.

Ted Simons: How much money does this account for and how much is spent?

Scott Krushak: We get about $11 million, I would say, and we spend it all. We use it. That's a regional asset, don't forget, so we all sit together as a region, and how do we make this work.

Scott Somers: It's not just for the equipment, it's great stuff to look at. But it goes from tremendous training too, the bomb techs have to be trained, the hazardous materials folks have to be trained. Firefighters have been involved in spotting activities that might have resulted in a significant event.

Ted Simons: You mentioned equipment. What's this cylinder thing here?

Scott Somers: This is an interesting device, a radiological meter. We use to it sweep for weapons of mass destruction. We can use this at the Super Bowl, golf tournaments, the kinds of big events that might be targets in the Valley. We'll use it again in the Super Bowl coming up. We were able to detect somebody in an audience from a distance away who had just had a radiological procedure done the day before.

Scott Krushak: There it is.

Ted Simons: I'm pointing this -- That's a Thermos mug or something.

Scott Somers: It's extremely sensitive equipment. We train our folks to use it, they are experts at it.

Ted Simons: I hate to keep coming back to money, but we've got the sequester going on, as well. Impact of the sequester on future funding.

Scott Krushak: The grant programs are in flux, we're not really sure. The President says it should look this way, Congress says it should look this way. So we really don't know what it looks like. We move forward with our plans and our processes, and then we take it to see what's going to happen. Just to sum up, I'm going to say one word. Boston. Because that changes everything. Boston, you saw the Congress and some of Congress saying, hey, we need to eliminate these response systems, MMRS, we don't need all that stuff. Those are toys, we don't need it. Well one word on Boston. They needed it.

Scott Somers: And I would use one word, two words, Tyler, Texas. Nobody's ever heard of Tyler, Texas, because the FBI working in a fusion center with local police stopped the terrorist attack that was going to use weapons of mass destruction.

Ted Simons: Yet we will hear critics say the funding for Homeland Security in general, a waste, all sorts of abuse. Money is being used to buy snow-cone machines, a submarine for Columbus, Ohio. How do you respond to that?

Scott Krushak: I have to say that we spend our money correctly here in the region. We do have several best practices, we regionalize, across the U.S. we're known for that. I have to say we know the Secretary of Homeland Security very well, and she knows us very well. Our fusion center was started by her and it's the national model. That's the way things should be. We don't have any snow-cone machines.

Ted Simons: The money maybe needs to be tightened a little bit or better monitored, how do you respond?

Scott Somers: We want to make sure that we spend our money wisely. The Phoenix region has been held up as an innovative best practice. We are truly the model nationally, particularly with our training and interoperable nature by which our police, fire, state and local and federal jurisdictions are operating.

Ted Simons: Ever-evolving?

Scott Krushak: And we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. I have to say that. That's what this is about. This is about taking those funds and using them correctly for the community, and that's what we do.

Ted Simons: Gentlemen, good to have you both here.

Scott Krushak: Thank you.

Scott Somers: Thank you.