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January 18, 2014

Embattled head of unemployment bureau resigns

BOSTON -- Massachusetts Registrar of Motor Vehicles Rachel Kaprielian is joining the governor’s Cabinet as secretary of labor and workforce development, the governor announced Friday morning.

Kaprielian, a former House Democrat from Watertown, will replace embattled Secretary Joanne Goldstein, who is leaving the administration to become associate vice president of Northeastern University.

Goldstein had been under fire for failures in the software program the state has been using to help the unemployed register for benefits. State Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, received many complaints from local constituents and implored Goldstein to fix the software.

In a letter sent to The Daily News in September, Goldstein said fixing the software problems was a top priority for her, however problems continued for months. Goldstein did not tie her departure to the software problems, saying that she felt she was leaving the agency in good shape.

“I am thrilled that Rachel has agreed to take on this new role, and I am confident that she is prepared to continue the difficult work of getting our residents back to work, and preparing both our workers and employers for the jobs of the 21st century economy,” Patrick said in a statement.

Kaprielian was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1994, and served on Beacon Hill until 2008 when Patrick appointed her as registrar of the Registry of Motor Vehicles. She joins an administration that is winding down with just over 11 months remaining before Patrick gives up the governor’s office.

The governor’s announcement of Kaprielian’s appointment included no information about how he would fill her position at the RMV. Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said the governor will make an announcement relative to that position at noon.

With Patrick departing the Corner Office after this year, more senior administration officials may depart for new jobs. That could create a challenge for the administration, which is already battling problems with operations at the Massachusetts Health Connector Authority, the Division of Unemployment Assistance and the Department of Children and Families.

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