DSPS in crisis

Empower Wisconsin  | May 3, 2022

As Gov. Tony Evers’ dysfunctional Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) slowly begins to move into the Digital Age, the vast majority of the agency’s employees still aren’t coming into their taxpayer-funded offices.

“DSPS has been operating on a fully manual system to process licenses. Yet 70% of their current employees are working remotely,” said state Rep. Shae Sortwell. The Two Rivers Republican serves as chairman of the Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform, which is investigating a crippling backlog of professional license and permits applications at DSPS.

“How is a Wisconsin nurse, social worker, or psychologist supposed to care for his or her patients when their license is delayed because bureaucrats cannot access the paperwork they send in?” said Sortwell, who also recently was named co-chair of a new legislative task force looking into ways to reform the state’s licensing and credentialing laws.

While DSPS bureaucrats have blamed the Republican-controlled Legislature for not previously coming up with the funds to update the agency’s technology, lawmakers did set aside $5 million in the recent budget that the administration could use for software system upgrades. Evers has yet to request any of the money since it became available in July, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Instead, the governor is reportedly tapping into the mountain of federal COVID relief cash he has at his disposal, something Republicans urged him to do long ago.

“He would rather wait more than six months until an election year to use federal dollars and block any new license application for healthcare workers for sixteen days before upgrading their old system,” Sortwell said, noting the current blackout at DSPS as the agency effectively shuts down while portions of operations move from paper to electronic files.

On Monday, Sortwell’s committee released the third in a series of three videos examining the incompetence and disorder at the Department of Safety and Professional Services.

Watch the video, Breaking Down the Backlog: From Competence to Crisis.

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