When You Call the Government, Does Anyone Pick Up?

Republicans want to know want to know if New Jerseyans can get anyone to pick up the phone when they call government agencies for help.

“It’s time that we have a Consumer Czar to call government entities at the State, county, and local levels to determine whether they respond,” said Republican Senator Jon Bramnick. “The job of the czar is to let the Legislature know if you can get anyone to pick up the phone when you call for help.”

A new bill, S-2430, establishes the independent State Office of the Consumer in the Legislative Branch of State Government.

The Office of the Consumer will be responsible for conducting routine, periodic, and random phone call assessments of local government, school district, and State offices and the offices of regulated health insurance companies by calling those offices to determine the responsiveness and accessibility of the office.

The office will also be responsible for periodic assessments of the websites of local government, school district, and State offices and the offices of regulated health insurance companies and by assessing the user-friendliness of the websites.

The director will make monthly reports to the Legislature and the Governor that include the frequency and ease of reaching a live person to speak to when calling offices and the ease of finding information and user-friendliness of the websites visited during the reporting period.

Bucco said this reporting would provide trustworthy, quantitative data for lawmakers that could help drive and measure the success of reforms to improve government services.

“We witnessed the long lines at the MVC and heard the horror stories about unemployment during the pandemic,” added Senator Anthony Bucco. “That was first-hand proof that things were really bad. Unfortunately, when you listen to those agency heads, they never really seem to understand how bad it really is. As legislators, we want trustworthy data that accurately quantifies the extent of the problem and measures the success of various reforms. This legislation will finally provide that source.”

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