All Posts by Empower Wisconsin

Licensing agency’s dysfunction begins with ‘absentee’ governor

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — Advanced Practice Social Worker Jessica Glab has been waiting since April — 2021 — for the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to process her license application. She says others at the southeast Wisconsin mental health clinic where she works have been waiting well over a year, too.

Getting ahold of a human being at Gov. Tony Evers’ dysfunctional licensing agency has been nearly impossible.

“DSPS cashes our application check within days of receipt, with no additional updates provided to the (agency’s) portal,” Glab wrote in a letter to lawmakers seeking help. “We attempt to call the DSPS office often, but sit on hold for hours at a time or leave a message/send emails with no response.”

It’s an all too common experience.

Professionals all across the state have shared similar stories of woe about the massive backlog of license applications and renewals that have, in some cases, kept people out of work and health care facilities from filling the positions they desperately need.

Empower Wisconsin has collected the accounts of dozens of professionals and organizations hit by the backlog.

State Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers) said DSPS continues to be riddled with incompetence and inefficiencies, a department that, in some cases, is failing to follow the law. Sortwell chaired the Assembly Regulatory Licensing Reform Committee that in March held a public hearing on DSPS. He’s co-chair of a task force that plans to hold a follow-up hearing early next month as it investigates complaints like Glab’s.

Dawn Crim, secretary-designee of the licensing agency, recently announced she will be stepping down amid growing criticism.

Sortwell said the problems begin with “absentee” leadership. His committee has sought records to see how involved Evers has been with DSPS over the past year. A similar records request by Empower Wisconsin found the governor had just three meetings with former Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman before Frostman was asked to step down from an agency that left tens of thousands of displaced workers waiting months for their unemployment benefits.

“In my opinion, I don’t think he has a clue what’s going on in his own departments, his administration, I think he’s an absentee boss letting other minions runs things and either doesn’t know or doesn’t care,” Sortwell said of Evers.

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