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Number of press secretaries is downsized, saving $1.2 million annually


Governor Mitt Romney today announced a major reduction in the number of press secretaries in state government, saying he wants a more streamlined communications structure that saves money.


There are approximately 60 press secretaries in the Executive Branch of state government. Termination notices have gone out to 21 of these individuals, which will save an estimated $1.2 million annually. Another 11 positions will be eliminated or left vacant, with affected employees moved to non-press roles.


“The current communications structure in government makes no sense. It grew over time without any planning or thought. It’s an extremely wasteful system,” said Romney. “By streamlining our communications function, we can do a better job with less people for the taxpayers of Massachusetts.”


The current plan calls for installing a press secretary at the top of each Cabinet silo to handle press calls within that particular Cabinet grouping, except at Administration & Finance, Labor and Economic Development, which will be handled by the Governor’s Press Office.


With few exceptions, press spokespeople at the sub-Cabinet level will be eliminated.


This means that within the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, for instance, the EOEA press secretary will answer inquiries regarding environmental issues whether they come into the Executive Office or one of the subordinate agencies, i.e., the Metropolitan District Commission, Department of Environmental Management or the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.


Cabinet press secretaries will coordinate on policy matters and issues of urgent concern with the Governor’s Press Office.


“This reorganization is long overdue. Our view is we can substantially reduce the number of press secretaries and still provide a more effective and accountable communications program,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, Romney’s Communications Director.


Among the agencies that will be allowed to keep their press spokespeople are: The Department of Public Health, Registry of Motor Vehicles, Department of Revenue, Department of Correction, Division of Insurance, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Social Services, Department of Education and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.


“It makes sense for agencies that have a built-in public information mission, or receive a high volume of media calls, to have their own press operation. Other agencies, such as the State Racing Commission, have a harder-to-justify need,” said Fehrnstrom.


Press positions eliminated in following agencies:

Executive Office of Administration and Finance

Department of Health Care and Finance Policy

Office for Child Care Services

Office for Refugees and Immigrants

Division of Capital Asset Management

Group Insurance Commission

Massachusetts Highway Department (2)

Board of Higher Education

Board of Registration in Medicine

State Racing Commission

Professional Licensure Division

Division of Telecommunications and Energy

Division of Energy Resources

Division of Banks

Office of Business Development

Department of Environmental Management

Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (2)

Metropolitan District Commission

Department of Food and Agriculture

Department of Fire Services

Parole Board

Governor’s Highway Safety Bureau

Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Commission for the Blind

Department of Youth Services

Division of Medical Assistance

Department of Mental Health

Department of Mental Retardation

Department of Transitional Assistance

Department of Economic Development

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