March 28, 2012

Mangano Announces $3 Million in Cost-Cutting
Initiatives and the Prevention of $19 Million in Waste

Mineola, NY – Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano today announced that in further efforts to protect taxpayers, under his direction, the Department of Social Services (DSS) has implemented a wide range of innovative and efficiency driven cost-savings initiatives.  This includes program realignments, the restructuring of contracts and submitting award winning grant applications that resulted in over $2.7 million in savings to taxpayers and $18.8 million in cost avoidance savings.  The department recently won a $100,000 competitive grant from New York State to fight welfare waste, fraud and abuse.

County Executive Mangano stated, “My administration is committed protecting taxpayer dollars and I am pleased to see our efforts to help contain the cost of government come to fruition.”

The initiatives include the following:

  1. DSS Operations – Emergency Housing for the Homeless
    Policy and operational modifications resulted in programmatic savings exceeding $2 million compared to the corresponding period in 2010 which included the following:
    • In 2011 DSS working in partnership with the Nassau County Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) curtailed the use of motels for emergency housing in favor of utilizing community based emergency shelters. Shelter operators provide a more supportive and supervised environment which assist the homeless to locate permanent housing. The initiative reduced motel expenses by 14% in 2011.
      SAVINGS TO DATE: $750,000

    • 03-28-12When utilizing motels for emergency housing DSS shifted from paying the market rate for motels to a fixed rate payment structure. In 2011 this change saved the county over 20% in emergency housing expenditures.
      SAVINGS TO DATE: $1,100,000

    • Based on DSS and OHCD requirements, the Nassau County Office of Information Technology (NCIT) created a computer software program for placing homeless clients in emergency shelters. By leveraging the technology solution shelter costs decreased even though shelter placements increased 4% in 2011 over 2010. SAVINGS TO DATE: $450,000

    • 03-28-12In 2011 DSS revised moving and storage procurement policies for those clients eligible to receive the benefit. Clients are now required to obtain three bids prior to DSS approving the subsidy. Based on using the most cost efficient proposal, moving and storage expenses have been reduced by 20% SAVINGS TO DATE: $190,000

    • DSS spends over $2 million annually on cash security deposits to assist DSS clients in securing permanent housing. On January 1, 2012 DSS converted from paying cash for housing security deposits to an escrow security deposit procedure. The County reduced the security deposit expense by 73% during the first two months of implementation.
      SAVINGS TO DATE: $240,000 (with an estimated projected annual savings of $1.4 million)

    • 03-28-12 In 2011 DSS reviewed and revised all contracted services including placing a cap on contract administrative fees. As a result in 2011 over 93 cents out of every contract dollar was judiciously spent on providing direct services to DSS clients.

  2. DSS Operations – Employment
    To assist DSS clients in becoming self-sufficient the department launched the following initiatives:
    • Reorganized the Employment unit starting with the hiring of an experienced Employment Director in late 2010.

    • Initiating semi-annual Job Fairs. In 2011 the Employment unit, in collaboration with the Nassau County Coordinating Agency of Spanish Americans (CASA) and Office of Minority Affairs, organized two job fairs with over 100 hiring firms and attended by over 5,000 residents. Two additional Job Fairs are planned for 2012.

    • In 2011 the number of Public Assistance cases closed due to excess income (attributed to clients being employed) increased 51% over 2010 levels saving New York State and the Federal government close to $12 million in cost avoidance.

    • 03-28-12 Subsidized Employment. Since 2009, DSS realized $1.8 million in competitive state funded grants to provide subsidized employment opportunities for unemployed DSS clients. To enhance the program the Employment unit developed relationships with private employers who continuously seek workers with various skill-sets. These employers include; include North Shore – LIJ Health System, GEICO and Healthplex.

    • In 2011 the Employment unit introduced performance based contracts with our strategic partners. Performance based contracts pay the contractor for reaching certain milestones such as when a DSS client gains employment. If the contractor does not meet the milestone, they don’t get paid which keeps the focus on achieving goals that benefit taxpayers and DSS clients by assisting them towards self-sufficiency. The unit is now working collaboratively with counterparts in Suffolk and Westchester counties to assist them in developing similar programs.

  3. DSS Operations - Day Care
    In 2011 DSS restructured the subsidized Day Care program to better serve the more than 5,000 children attending day care programs while reducing costs and eliminating wasteful and fraudulent use of services meant for Nassau's working families. One initiative included mandating applicants to submit a notarized form attesting to off-the-books employment.

  4. DSS Operations - WELFARE WASTE, FRAUD AND ABUSE The department's team of investigators in conjunction with program staff, have uncovered a total of $4.6 million in cost avoidance savings in 2011. These investigative initiatives are just the latest in a multi-year effort that has saved county residents millions in overpayments and unnecessary expenses.

"Since taking office in January 2010 it has been my priority to reduce costs and improve efficiencies throughout county government and save taxpayer dollars," stated County Executive Mangano.

"I also want to give the most special acknowledgment to each and every employee of the Department of Social Services, without whom these accomplishments would never have been realized. They are a credit to themselves and the County, and they prove by their hard work and example that government can reorganize, cut costs, implement quality initiatives and at the same time continue to deliver the vital services that our citizens need and require."