Due to a declining workload and ongoing budget constraints, the Division of Workers' Compensation will close its Norwalk district office, effective April 15, 1996.
DWC, like most government agencies, is being financially squeezed, requiring a constant, vigilant effort to identify and take advantage of cost saving opportunities. Unfunded cost increases, such as the increase in postage costs mandated by the US Postal Service and the $1.9 million required to fund the last general salary increase for DWC employees, must be paid for by either reducing operating expenses or personnel. Facility cost is, by far, the largest non-personnel cost incurred by DWC, accounting for more than $9 million annually.
The workload at the Norwalk district office has declined significantly since 1990, when the new open venue statute allowed practitioners to file in any district office within a county. In 1990, approximately fifteen percent of new Los Angeles County cases were filed at the Norwalk district office, but by last year that number dropped to seven percent. When given a choice, practitioners largely chose to file in DWC's other Los Angeles County offices.
Commenting on the closing of the Norwalk district office, Casey L. Young, DWC's Administrative Director said, "This is a difficult decision, but it will save the Division approximately $400,000 annually in facility expenditures alone, which goes a long way towards eliminating our current budgetary shortfall and enabling us to maintain the personnel needed to insure prompt service delivery to the workers' compensation community." Young added, "Our excellent Norwalk staff will be transferred to other offices in the area."
Every effort is being made to minimize the effect of the closure on the community as well as the staff. DWC will meet later this month with the attorneys who have been practicing in Norwalk to discuss how the transfer of their cases can be facilitated with as little disruption as possible.