Profile: Ruth Ginzberg

Senior Procurement Specialist

Furloughs have wreaked havoc on Ruth Ginzberg’s job and her ability to schedule important meetings.

“Trying to coordinate days [to meet] when no one is on furlough is almost impossible,” says Ginzberg, a senior procurement specialist for the University of Wisconsin System Administration. “It can take weeks to find dates for meetings that should happen more immediately than that.”

Ginzberg, a member of the Wisconsin Professional Employees Council (WPEC), works on large software licensing procurements for the university system, including software that supports the system’s distance education program.

“At a time when the state is extremely concerned about spending, it’s important to get good pricing on commodities and services, including negotiating good contracts on licenses,” she says. “In order to be able to do this, we have to devote time and resources.”

Furloughs are not the only obstruction to getting the job done. Staffing shortages predate the recession.

“Our particular office is shorthanded,” she says. “We haven’t been fully staffed since 2005.”

And then there is the issue of staffing at the Department of Administration’s Bureau of Procurement, which gives UW-System Administration its procurement authority. “They are so understaffed,” says Ginzberg. “It’s not funny.”

Between furlough days and short staffing, Ginzberg says, “every single day is like dragging along a 2-ton weight to get anything done.”

In August 2009, WPEC signed a Memorandum of Understanding authorizing Gov. Jim Doyle’s 16-day furlough plan for the 2009-11 biennium.

“Many of us originally were trying to step up to the plate and work more to get the work done,” says Ginzberg. “Most of us have found that that way of approaching the job can be detrimental to our health and family life.”

Ginzberg says it is now about finding balance, “which does not mean putting in 50 hours to 60 hours on a regular basis.”