Far too many agencies in South Carolina state government are failing to perform at the level that the people ought to expect from them. Attention this week is upon the Employment Security Commission, but the problem persists throughout state government, within the Governor’s Cabinet and without.
There is no doubt that there is a problem with the Employment Security Commission. The ESC’s failure to timely pay withholding taxes is unacceptable, and members of the General Assembly calling for the resignations of the three commission members are correct. The explanation offered by the ESC that the employee in charge of such was new in the position is not acceptable. Further, the problems with the ESC have been around for months now. People that are entitled to benefits find them delayed. People who have never worked for a business have drawn benefits off the business that they never worked for.
Something must be done. However, restructuring the ESC without a demand for competence will not solve the problem. Placing an agency under the Governor does not magically make that agency work better or insure accountability. The hard work of demanding a culture of competence in state government must be done.
Take for example the Department of Social Services. Under the Governor’s appointed director, arrests were made for embezzlements that lost money that will never be recovered for the state under the Governor’s director. A child died in DSS custody due to a system breakdown in placement. Yet, even though the DSS is in the Governor’s Cabinet, no one demanded accountability. The Governor demanded no resignations. Indeed, the problems with the DSS do not even appear to be on the Governor’s political radar.
There is also the Department of Transportation, where the supposedly open Sanford Administration turned a blind eye to the fact its appointed Secretary of Transportation tried to get the DOT to give the company his son works for a no bid contract on a project. At the most recent DOT meeting, the lowest bidder was nearly 40 percent lower than the no bid contract attempted. Again, there were no demands for resignation or even accountability from the Governor, or even the General Assembly.
So, how are we the people to believe that the ESC will operate better if the General Assembly merely kicks it to the Governor’s office without working to create a culture of competence within the agency?