Court Delivers MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER on Special Master Report *plus* Hearing on HSD illegal quota policy

Update: April 6, 2018


READ the FULL MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER on Special Master Report regarding State efforts to comply with the HSD/ISD Federal Consent Decree.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Gonzales set deadlines for HSD Income Support DIvision to complete reforms in a 28 page memorandum opinion and order.  You may read his FULL text of the specific Orders beginning on Pg.26. [PDF] here.

Judge Gonzales has ordered HSD to begin making urgently needed changes at the Income Support Division (ISD).

Support Income support division employees by signing the HSD/ISD petition HERE.

Judge Gonzales stopped short of ordering Cabinet Secretary Earnest to dismiss bad-acting managers but did note in his Opinion that, "the Compliance Specialist’s report supports the Special Master’s conclusion that management lacks sufficient Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities to bring HSD into compliance..."

The Opinion reads supportive of high level staffing changes at ISD, characterizing the ISD Director's Court testimony as "woefully inadequate" and writes "...there are reasons for the Court to lack total confidence in the current middle-tier management," and that Defendant [State] has sufficient information from which to make appropriate personnel decisions as they may relate to this litigation." 

Notable Orders include:

HSD will:

  • revise the Consent Decree to reflect the parts that have been completed, update requirements, and dismiss all moot court orders. Implementation Timeframe: 30 days

  • develop, implement, and complete ASPEN refresher training to include functionality and known work arounds for staff success: Implementation Timeframe:180 days

  • implement auto denial and closure functions:  Implementation by May 1, 2018

  • enhance new employee training to align with realistic job expectations, and improve the accuracy of the training materials: DRAFT TRAINING MATERIALS DUE September 1, 2018, for review and recommendations of the Court Special Master,


Prohibited Practice Complaint Hearing on Quotas Takes Place Tuesday

AFSCME Council 18 and several of your fellow HSD/ISD Family Assistance Analysts will be present for Tuesday's Public Employees Labor Relations Board hearing and give testimony detailing impacts of HSD/ISD's illegal and sloppily implemented QUOTA policy. 

We'll send out another update following that hearing. 

Update: March 1, 2018 

READ the Special Master’s Report to U.S. District Court on State's efforts to comply with the HSD/ISD Federal Consent Decree.

CLICK HERE for a PDF file of this story for PRINTING AND POSTING

On Thursday, March 1st, the Human Service Department appeared before U.S. District Judge Kenneth Gonzales in the decades-old Debra Hatten-Gonzales case concerning mismanagement at New Mexico's HSD Income Support Division.

Judge Gonzales ordered over a dozen County Line and Regional Managers to be present during the hearing.

Judge Gonzales will decide in a matter of weeks whether or not to accept, in whole or part, Special Master Lawrence Parker's report and recommendations for overhauling New Mexico's underperforming income support system. Ultimately, HSD Cabinet Secretary Brent Earnest, will be the one responsible for following through with implementing those recommendations and orders of the Court.

Significant details of the report and information emerging during the hearing include:

  • HSD/ISD will restore and integrate into ASPEN an auto-denial and auto-closure system

  • HSD/ISD has entered into a contract to create a global employee-procedures, or "desktop reference", manual (eta 12/2018)

  • Report recommends termination of several top ISD managers due to lack of knowledge and skills necessary to implement necessary improvements 

  • Management's response to orders being handed down by the court has created an atmosphere of fear and retaliation that must change

Both Judge Gonzales and Special Master Parker took time during the hearing to recognize the heavy lift that income support division Family Assistance Analysts do every day to deliver support services in spite of the deck being stacked against us.

Throughout the hearing, testimony painted a picture which AFSCME members know all too well - communications and directives from upper management to the frontline employees is in chaos and causes the agency mission to suffer. Employees are being denied necessary trainings and other opportunities to advance their careers. Equally dysfunctional has been the flow of vital information from the frontline employees to HSD decision makers.

All parties agree that HSD/ISD has made significant progress in delivering food and medical assistance to citizens in need. Little evidence emerged that management deserves any credit for the improvements. Instead, frontline staff are the ones doing the work necessary to improve performance and it is coming at great cost as FAAs, under immense pressure to fly through their caseloads, are denied vacation and even discouraged from taking medical leave.

AFSCME has learned that HSD / Income Support Division Employees are being told by management that AFSCME has agreed to a quota system. This is false. AFSCME continues to demand bargaining over this substantial change in your protected terms and conditions of employment.

AFSCME Council 18 has filed a prohibited practice complaint with the New Mexico Public Employees Labor Board over the attempted implementation of quotas on behalf of all HSD Income Support Division - Family Assistance Analysts. Our complaint demands that New Mexico's Human Services Department rescind these unilateral changes, bargain with the Union over those, and any future changes to terms and conditions of employment of bargaining unit members prior to implementation in accordance with Article 18, § 2 of the CBA.

Read the prohibited practice complaint


SIGN the HSD/ISD petition HERE.

The Board will hear arguments on the merits on the case on April 10, 2018. We still need to hear from HSD/ISD members NOW. If you are being subjected to illegal quotas or being transferred to different work locations, please contact us with details and your personal contact number at: [email protected]

Please share examples of how HSD has retaliated, intimidated, or disciplined employees using this illegally imposed 'quota policy'. Share your story in the comment section. Include examples of HSD using your annual performance appraisal, EDA, to load on quota requirements.

For decades, the New Mexico Human Services Department has faced criticism for failing to properly process applications for Medicaid and food assistance, or SNAP benefits. AFSCME members know that challenges in recent years stem from severe understaffing, an error prone ASPEN computer system, lack of training, and the lack of global policy and practices, or “desktop reference” manual.