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Hoeven, WSI chairman agree on search details

BISMARCK - Consultants who would study recent issues at the state's workers' compensation agency should be hired by Jan. 2 and deliver recommendations about what they find by Feb. 1.

BISMARCK - Consultants who would study recent issues at the state's workers' compensation agency should be hired by Jan. 2 and deliver recommendations about what they find by Feb. 1.

Workforce Safety and Insurance Board Chairman Bob Indvik and Gov. John Hoeven's attorney, Ryan Bernstein, agreed on those and other details Wednesday.

Bernstein and Indvik agreed that consultants will study personnel management issues and review injured workers' claims processing to see if all are handled fairly and consistently. A request-for-proposal will be published around Dec. 1.

Bernstein said the scoring process that determines what consultant or firm is hired "should be open and transparent so everyone knows why they were picked."

Hoeven recently called on WSI to bring in outside experts after the agency's internal audit manager reported some claims were being unfairly denied, in hopes workers would not appeal the decisions. The audit manager, Kay Grinsteinner, also sent several incriminating documents to state auditors and sought whistle-blower protection from the attorney general for having reported suspected state agency wrongdoing.

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Grinsteinner was the fifth staffer at the agency to apply for whistle-blower protection in recent weeks. All requests have come in since WSI's executive director, Sandy Blunt, was cleared of criminal charges involving disclosure of confidential information.

Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net Hoeven, WSI chairman agree on search details Janell Cole 20071129

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