Documents Detail Layoff Criteria – KHON2.com

The elimination of six plant quarantine inspectors, also within the Department of Agriculture, will limit nursery certification statewide and force cargo headed for Kauai to instead be routed to Honolulu for inspection.

Documents turned over to the Hawaii Government Employees Association last month by the Lingle administration detail the criteria used to eliminate more than 1,100 state jobs by mid November.

Khon2 obtained a copy of all 462 pages provided to the union as ordered by the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

Department directors and supervisors were told to keep the following criteria in mind when eliminating jobs

  1. Minimize health and safety impacts.
  2. Minimize adverse impacts on service to the public and agencies involved.
  3. Prohibit the reduction of staffing levels below the minimum required to support critical program functions.

While the administration appears to have taken steps to ensure that public health and safety would not be compromised, some of the impending job cuts will make the detection of infectious diseases more difficult.

The Veterinary Laboratory within the Department of Agriculture will be downsized, reducing the lab’s capabilities to provide quick disease surveillance.

A document provided by the Department of Agriculture shows cutbacks at the lab would “increase the outsourcing of tests to be run at mainland labs, and impair the ability to scale up testing in an animal disease emergency.”

That means the state’s ability to test for diseases like West Nile virus, dengue fever and avian flu could be severely compromised.

The elimination of six plant quarantine inspectors, also within the Department of Agriculture, will limit nursery certification statewide and force cargo headed for Kauai to instead be routed to Honolulu for inspection.

Documents also show the loss of 3 to 5 positions at the Department of Health’s Vector Control Branch may result in slower response times to mosquito outbreaks and mice and rat infestations.

Dropping chemists from the state’s payroll could also impact Hawaii’s ability to test ocean water as required by the federal government and reduce the effectiveness of monitoring the impacts of vog from the Big Island.

As part of the reduction in force effort, the Department of Public Safety will no longer provide security at the Department of Defense facility inside Diamond Head Crater, the state laboratory in Pearl City and the guard post at the Hawaii State Hospital.

Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo says DOH plans on hiring private security guards for the state lab as well as the Hawaii State Hospital, the latter of which has seen its share of high profile escapes of mental patients.

If tax revenues continue to fall, Gov. Lingle has said a second round of layoffs may be necessary in order to trim a projected budget deficit of $921 million through June 2011.

A report last week by the Department of Taxation showed overall tax collections are down 9.7 percent in the first three months of the fiscal year.

Have a news tip? Contact Andrew Pereira at 368-7273.

Documents Detail Layoff Criteria – KHON2.com

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