WEST VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL TO PRESENT PROPOSED BUDGET TO SENATE
CHARLESTON – Attorney General Patrick Morrisey will present his budget proposals for the 2014 Fiscal Year to members of the Senate Finance Committee at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20. The budget hearing will take place in Room 451M in the State Capitol.
Each year, representatives of State offices and agencies outline their budget wishes for the upcoming fiscal year to members of the Senate Finance Committee and House Finance Committee. Members of the committees then must balance the goals and requests of the agencies with the budget proposed by the Governor. The process typically takes the entire 60-day regular session, plus an extended session that typically lasts one week. The new fiscal year begins July 1.
In making his request, Attorney General Morrisey promised to identify offsets to fully pay for all of the initiatives needed to ensure that the Office runs in a professional manner. He said policy changes recently announced by his office relating to the purchasing of promotional trinkets and advertising during election cycles may help to further eliminate wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.
“Without question, our State budget is under duress, and we need to be prudent stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Attorney General Morrisey said.
Morrisey said he remains committed to continuing to actively support and maintain funding for the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.
“If the Consumer Protection Division is to sustain itself and properly staff consumer cases to recover potential monies owed to the State, it must have enough funding to properly investigate, prosecute, and staff matters over the course of the litigation, which can take several years.”
The budget request also seeks supplemental appropriations to address significant challenges within the Office that diminish productivity and hamper efficiency. Attorney General Morrisey is asking lawmakers to approve a supplemental appropriation to address the Office’s current phone system, which is virtually inoperable and near the end of its life, as well as two requests for FY2014 to address the office’s technological infrastructure.
“The current phone system of the Office of Attorney General is partially inoperable and at the end of its useful life – it is no longer supported by the manufacturer and no maintenance support is available from the service provider,” Morrisey said. “At present, employees in the Consumer Protection Division have no access to their voicemail, which is hindering the Division’s ability to receive and address consumer complaints. Moreover, the underlying hardware supporting the phone system is not functioning properly – calls within our Consumer Protection, Payroll & Benefits, and Field Services Divisions located on Quarrier Street frequently get routed to the wrong employee, leading to additional breakdowns in the Office’s attempts to serve clients and respond to constituent concerns.”
He said the technology used within all divisions of the Attorney General’s Office also is antiquated, ineffective and putting the state at risk. For example, he said while virtually every other state office uses Microsoft Outlook and runs on a Microsoft platform, the Attorney General’s Office uses a Novell platform, which is no longer supported by the manufacturer, and GroupWise email, which is not compatible with most other email programs. That limits the Office’s ability to interact with its clients, constituents and the legal community.
In addition, the Office does not have an adequate electronic document storage program or file organization program. In fact, most divisions maintain paper case files as their primary records, which raises “serious legal ethics and security concerns, and hampers considerably the Office’s aim to increase the efficiency and quality of legal representation for the State,” he said.
“Collectively, the hardware and infrastructure will allow the Office to purchase and operate legal practice management software that will dramatically increase the efficiency and overall operations of the Office of Attorney General,” Attorney General Morrisey explained.