Personnel Director's and
County Administrator' s
Response to the 1994-95
Grand Jury's Interim Final Report
"Personnel Procedure and Policy"
Ann Goodrich, Personnel Director
Kent Taylor, County Administrator
Note to Readers:
We have attempted to enhance readability and continuity of thought by reproducing the Grand Jury's report verbatim and inserting pertinent Personnel Director' s comments where appropriate. The Personnel Director's and County Administrator's comments are in bold type, while the Grand Jury's text is in regular type.
The Santa Barbara County Personnel Department, which is under the direction of the County Administrator, has an unique and important function within the County, for it exists to serve the other County departments, not the public directly.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Personnel Department's list of clients does in fact include the public, which in 1970, adopted a voter approved initiative that established a civil service system. That initiative established the rules for employment of the County workforce and charged the Personnel Director with the responsibility of ensuring that County employment practices follow that voter approved system. County Code 27-24(a) proscribes a regulatory role for the Personnel Department in addition to its service responsibilities to County departments. In County government, the employer or "appointing authority" of all County employees is the Board of Supervisors. The Board in turn, within the structure of the County's personnel and compensation system, has delegated that authority to County department heads. The County Board of Supervisors, as agent(s) of the citizens and taxpayers of Santa Barbara County, is the primary client of the Personnel Department. Our responsibilities to the Board of Supervisors include the administration of the personnel, employment and compensation systems that the Board and its Civil Service Commission have adopted.
With multiple clients, it is only natural that occasionally these different clients have service requirements that come in conflict with each other. In those cases, the service requirements of County departments must be met within the framework of the personnel, employment and compensation systems established by the Board of Supervisors.
As a means to this end, the Personnel Department has a staff of twenty-five and a budget of approximately $1.9 million for the 1994-95 fiscal year. The responsibilities of the Personnel Department are varied and far-reaching. They include labor contract negotiations, administering employment and retirement benefits, and County employment recruitment and testing, among many others. The time constraints placed upon a single Grand Jury prevent an investigation of all the aspects of the Personnel Department's responsibilities. Based upon a previous Grand Jury's recommendation and comments and statements made by other departments about the Personnel Department, the Grand Jury decided to investigate several specific issues:
· The general and overall response of the Personnel Department in its
interaction with its client departments
· The job classification system currently used by the Personnel
Department to track and manage the thousands of employment positions
· Open and promotional testing for employment as it is handled by the
· The hiring process, including how it is determined and tracked by the
Personnel Department, as well as how it relates to affirmative action
Personnel Director's Comments: The Personnel Department does not administer retirement benefits.
The objective of the Grand Jury was to ascertain how effectively the Personnel Department is serving its client departments with respect to the above mentioned issues.
The Grand Jury interviewed the Personnel Department Director and Deputy Director, members of the Board of Supervisors, various department heads, two Deputy County Administrators, the County Affirmative Action Officer, and members of the Civil Service Commission. Several of these people met with the Grand Jury numerous times. The Grand Jury also reviewed data provided by the Personnel Department on, but not limited to, entry-level and promotional testing, job classification procedures, proposed job classifications, actual job classifications, listings of job classes, affirmative action data collected by the Personnel Department, and other analyses as requested. The Grand Jury also reviewed the job responsibilities of the employees within the Personnel Department.
County Administrator's Comments: Since the Personnel Director reports to me (Article X of the County Code), it is surprising that the Grand Jury did not include me among the individuals they interviewed.
The Grand Jury found an outward attitude of cooperation by the Personnel Department, but received conflicting and contradictory information and testimony. The Grand Jury found it difficult to obtain accurate and complete answers to its inquiries. There was significant lag time
between requests for information from the Personnel Department by the Grand Jury and the receipt of such information.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Personnel Department responded to the Grand Jury's requests for information when it met with the Grand Jury's subcommittee and by memo if the information was not readily available. Many of the Grand Jury requests for information required compilation of data (e.g., turnover statistics). One written response was provided to the Grand Jury within one day; two within 5 days; one within 7 days; and one within 11 days. (As noted in the Grand Jury's own references.) The Grand Jury never communicated any specific deadlines for the requested information.
Personnel staff responded to the Grand Jury committee members' questions and endeavored to give accurate and complete answers. Sometimes, follow-up clarification was necessary before responding. On another occasion, the Grand Jury committee asked a list of questions provided to it by an absent member and indicated that the questions were confusing and that the Personnel Department was to do its best to figure out what the absent member was asking.
A service department such as the Personnel Department functions best with a positive customer attitude toward the other departments it serves. The Grand Jury saw little evidence of this, and received testimony that this positive attitude was lacking.
Personnel Director's Response: We strive toward a positive customer attitude. The Grand Jury does not say who testified that this attitude was lacking therefore it is difficult to respond without specifics. The Grand Jury could have obtained a more complete and accurate picture of the Personnel Department's working relationships with County departments if they had spoken to all of the County department heads, the majority of whom informed us after the Grand Jury report was issued that they were not contacted or interviewed by the Grand Jury regarding their perceptions of Personnel Department services or attitude.
The Personnel Director has received numerous compliments from department heads, County staff and members of the public, both orally and in writing, regarding almost every member of the Personnel Department's staff. Words such as professional, courteous, helpful, responsive and skillful are prevalent adjectives used to describe individual staff members.
The Grand Jury was informed by many department heads that complaints or requests addressed to the Personnel Department, both written and oral, remained unanswered or low on various priority lists for long lengths of time. For example, a County employee submitted in writing three requests for a review and/or correction of the employee's service date over a ten month period without the Personnel Department's agreeing to address it. Another example, given by a department head who said several messages were left for the Personnel Director and none of the calls were returned. The Grand Jury also frequently left messages on voice mail to which responses were extremely delayed or not received at all. These examples are symptomatic of a larger communication problem that exists.
Personnel Director's Comment: Because the Personnel Department receives service requests from the Board of Supervisors, the Civil Service Commission, County Administrator's Office, and twenty-four departments, the Personnel Department must prioritize work assignments. This prioritization process was described to the Grand Jury as being based on:
· Board of Supervisors direction, e.g., reorganization deadlines set by the Board and Department Head recruitments
· Direction from County Administrator as to countywide priorities
· Determinations by Department Heads for prioritization of work orders from their departments
· Impact on funding, e.g., grant funding negatively affected by delay County-wide impacts and time sensitive assignments
· Recruitments (in general) receiving higher priority than reclassifications; new position classification studies receiving a higher priority than reclassifications Equitable distribution of services among twenty-four user departments.
Like any County department, we do not have the resources to respond immediately to every request for service or information. We attempt to "triage" all service requests. Most service requests are dealt with fairly quickly. For example, the amount of time it takes the Personnel Department to provide a certification from an existing eligible list decreased from 2.3 days in 1993 to 1.8 days in 1995. Our records indicate that one third of all classification requests are completed within seven days of receipt and an additional third are completed in less than thirty days.
In order to provide better service to all operating departments, we have for the last rive years requested that departments with multiple recruitment and classifications requests, prioritize their requests so that we place our resources where the requesting departments feel the greatest urgency. Departments can and do adjust their priorities, sometimes weekly. Department representatives, while they would obviously like Personnel to respond to all their personnel requests at once, have indicated to us that they like the ability to control the order in which we complete their work.
The Grand Jury committee never discussed with the Personnel Director or staff the two examples it cites regarding untimely response to inquiries. Had they done so, it would have received a more complete understanding of the actual circumstances. Nevertheless, we continuously work towards promptly responding to inquiries and will redouble our efforts in light of this issue being raised.
Attempts were made to return the Grand Jury's phone messages the day of receipt or in some cases the next business day. Often, no one answered the Grand Jury's phone. In one instance, Personnel staff asked the Grand Jury for a Jury member's work number so that we could respond to a call that same day. As the Grand Jury is now on the County's Email system, we suggest that the members use it to send messages and receive them since this system records date and time sent and received.
The Personnel Department is not a client-friendly office. Various testimony given to the Grand Jury by some department heads described the Personnel Department as "confrontational" and that its problem is "beyond a lack of resources' and more of an "attitudinal problem. " A Personnel Department receptionist exhibited an uncooperative attitude toward the Grand Jury on several visits to the Personnel Department.
Personnel Director's Comments: The Grand Jury subcommittee never discussed, with myself or my staff, alleged problems regarding "attitude," "client frustration," or "confrontational style," nor in the interest of fairness and thoroughness, asked for any response or explanation from us. As previously stated, the Grand Jury could have'.developed a more complete, and we believe different, view of Personnel's customer relations if they had interviewed the heads of departments which employ the vast majority of County staff and are the major users of our services, who have indicated to us they were not polled by the Grand Jury.
As previously stated, the Grand Jury committee may have failed to consider the effect of Personnel Department's regulatory role in the perceptions of some department heads. It is easy to be considered "client-friendly" in a support role (e.g., giving advice, solving problems, recruiting staff). It is not so easy to be perceived as "client-friendly" in an enforcement role (e.g., telling a department that they are violating Civil Service Rules, that they cannot hire more staff than the Board of Supervisors has authorized, that their extra help use is inappropriate etc.). We attempt to perform this regulatory responsibility in a professional and businesslike manner. Occasionally, departments become frustrated at the limitations of the County's civil service system. It is only natural that in some cases some departments "blame" the messenger. We acknowledge that the system can sometimes be difficult and we try very hard to advise departments how they can achieve their goals within what is allowed in the civil service system. The Personnel Department has recommended and achieved modifications in the Rules to allow greater flexibility for departments and will continue to identify potential modifications of the system that could alleviate areas of departmental frustration.
Occasionally conflict also arises between departments and the Personnel Department in the area of salary setting. In establishing classifications and salaries, the Personnel Department provides professional compensation evaluations and recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. The vast majority of the time Personnel and the operating department reach consensus on classification and salaries. Occasionally, however, disagreements occur when Personnel believes a lower salary is more appropriate, based on responsibilities and labor market information, than what the department might desire. Some individuals may have perceived these disagreements as "confrontational" or that the Personnel Department didn't understand their "vision" because we declined to recommend to the Board the salary they wanted. These individuals are able and sometimes do make their own recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
There were relatively few employees observed working in the Personnel Department on many random visits during normal business hours. As a result, the Grand Jury tried to ascertain the proportion of time spent by the Personnel Department on various functions. The Personnel Department testified that time accounting was done in its department, but meaningful data on time requirements for various functions of the Department were not available.
Personnel Director's Comment: It is unclear as to whether the Grand Jury is saying that they observed idleness by our staff or whether they observed very few employees. The Personnel Department directs its employees to meet with department representatives at their offices, not in the Personnel Department. We believe it is important that staff, by going to departments, becomes more familiar with departmental operations and needs, and therefore will do a better job of providing services and advising departments on personnel related matters. Personnel staff is often out of the office when conducting job analysis for classification and testing, proctoring written, oral, and performance ex 'nations, discussing reorganizations, arranging reasonable accommodations, advising on disciplinary issues, preparing recruitment plans with department representatives, negotiating with employee representatives, attending Civil Service Commission, Occupational Health Council, and Affirmative Action Plan Update meetings, etc.
The Personnel Department has had reductions in staff and budget over the last several years, but their current budget in dollars for the 1994-95 fiscal year is virtually the same as their 1991-92 budget. The Department has had a loss of four FTE (full time equivalents) in its staff during this same four year period of time, but has also reduced its responsibilities, as is discussed further in this report. Though this staff reduction is a significant number, it would not appear to justify the extent to which the Personnel Department seems to use budget cuts as the reason for its performance reductions.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Personnel Department like most other County departments has had its budget allocation reduced as well as having to absorb operational costs and workload increases over the past five or six years.
Including the reduction in Fiscal Year 1995-96, staff reductions equal approximately 20% in the last five years. The Personnel Department's services have not been reduced by 20%. The Grand Jury did not ask us for any information regarding the impact of workload increases that have also impacted service levels to departments, for example, 106% increase in number of new regular employees hired since 1992; 180% increase in number of new positions classified since 1992; and 28% increase in the number of positions reclassified
since 1992. The County's reorganization activities in 1993/1994 affecting the County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor, Public Works, Flood Control, Planning & Development, General Services, Environmental Health, Agricultural Commissioner, and Air Pollution Control District also impacted service delivery as these reorganizations were given priority over other departmental requests. (Attachment I provides a listing of workload indicators.)
The Grand Jury investigated the job classification system within Santa Barbara County. The Personnel Department is responsible for creating, tracking, and maintaining the hundreds of County job classifications. The Grand Jury noted the professional and thorough forms, flowcharts, and written procedures regarding job classifications developed by the Personnel Department, but the Grand Jury did not observe the use of these impressive tools to their full potential.
The Grand Jury was unable to determine exactly how many job classifications exist within the County. On two different submissions, the Grand Jury was provided with a list from the Personnel Department with different figures for the number of job classifications within the County - 644 at one time and 766 another, both which conflict with the 860 job classifications counted in the 1994-95 Final Budget. According to Personnel Department testimony, any "count" of the job classifications within the County is only a snapshot at a given point in time, as the number of job classifications is constantly changing and varying. However, the number of job classifications completed, revised, and/or deleted each year as provided by the Personnel Department contradicts this statement.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Personnel Department did not provide the Grand Jury with the 860 figure and can only surmise that it came from the database maintained by the Auditor's Office which includes over 100 classifications that have either been deleted but remain on the database for historical record keeping or pertain to non-County agencies (e.g., Law Library and Goleta Valley Vector Control District). The Grand Jury is correct that the Personnel Department indicated that the number of classifications often changes because classes are established, split, consolidated, and deleted throughout the year. The Personnel Department gave an accurate number of classifications at the time requested. We did not include in that count classification "titles" that were established for the sole purpose of differentiating between bargaining units (e.g., court and unrepresented units). This may explain the difference in counts made by the Grand Jury.
Based on Personnel Department data, there were 874 employees in the ten largest classes, and approximately 1,300, or one-third of the County's employees in the twenty largest classes. Based on the job classification figure provided in the 1994-95 budget, the remaining average is three positions per job classification. This indicates there is an excessive number of job classifications with very few or no employees within each job classification.
Personnel Director's Comment: The County has numerous classifications because County departments have been able to document business reasons for the various classifications in their departments. The County operations are quite diverse; we operate jails and juvenile halls, law offices, medical offices and clinics, engineering services, business offices, a construction unit, banking operations, recreation facilities, fire station, law enforcement patrol activities, etc. Such diverse operations require diverse occupations and classifications.
Due to the high number of professional and technical skills needed in the diverse County operations, there are many classes with one or few positions assigned to the class. Some of these are department heads and assistant department heads, while many others are professional classes, for example, Naturalist, Purchasing Manager, Chief Appraiser. None of these single positions are interchangeable and it would be inappropriate to classify (and pay) them the same. We are not aware of any established classification management theory which has determined the "right" number of classifications.
The Personnel Department tries to maximize the number of positions that can be assigned to a classification in order to simplify compensation and provide flexibility for management in assigning employees. Some departments have pressed to have finer differentiation and narrower classes because of the degree of sophisticated knowledge required/desired. The Personnel Department balances the cost of having many classes (e.g., more recruitments required) and the cost of having too few (e.g., departments cannot find candidates with position-specific skills because recruitments are generic, and compensation is at the highest level of skill rather than multiple levels of compensation based multiple skill levels).
There are some classes where there are occasionally no incumbents. Primarily these are classes in flexibly-staffed series, where all the incumbents are currently filling other levels in the series.
The Personnel Department created or revised an average of 60 job classifications during each of the last three years in addition to the 30 job classifications created from the "Becker and Bell Study," which was performed by an outside consultant.
There is no procedure for periodically reviewing and evaluating job classifications. The Personnel Department stated that it does not have the time to establish and follow a timetable to review job classifications.
The Grand Jury received testimony that, as a result of the lack of any structured review process, all reviews of job classifications are based upon immediate hirings or reorganizations, despite Civil Service Rules and good management practice requiring correct job classifications. For example, there are multiple job classifications for the very same job being performed. The basis for some multiple job classifications is merely the bargaining unit in which the employee is assigned upon hiring.
Personnel Director's Comment: We do have a procedure for periodically reviewing and evaluating job classifications, and such procedure is as follows. The Personnel Department reviews job classifications in the following circumstances: prior to recruitments; in the process of test development or classification studies; upon a department request; when the Personnel Department has reason to believe that the specification is out of date; and when a reorganization causes redistribution of work and class concepts to change. Fifty-eight percent of current classifications have been reviewed in the last five years, 20% were reviewed within the last rive to ten years, and 22 % have not been reviewed in over 10 years. It would appear that the current practice. results in most classifications being reasonably up-to-date. In a recent survey of ten counties by Solano County, all ten counties indicated that they do not have a periodic review cycle for all classifications.
The Grand Jury is correct that there are multiple classifications "titles" for the same classification because the bargaining units are different. This is not a classification issue but a situation resulting from labor relations requirements.
The head of the Civil Service Commission testified to the Grand Jury that he believed all classifications are kept reasonably current, and that the Civil Service Rules are based upon this premise. Yet several times throughout its investigation, the Grand Jury was provided with anecdotal evidence that many job classifications are incorrect, outdated, and do not reflect the work being performed. Both documentary and testimonial evidence has shown that many people are working in departments for extensive periods of time with incorrect job classifications. The Personnel Department could not provide the Grand Jury with how many job classifications are currently obsolete nor how many persons are currently working out of class within the County.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Grand Jury does not give specifics regarding what evidence it received that many people were working out of class. Currently, the Personnel Department has on rile reclass requests covering only forty employees or approximately I% of County employees. This would not seem to indicate that many employees, as stated by the Grand Jury, are working out of classification. There are procedures in place for department heads and employees to have positions and classes reviewed if they believe they are working out of their classifications. Civil Service Rule 304 provides that, "Department heads shall request a classification study immediately when a significant modification of a positions duties is made on permanent basis." Further, Section 35 of the current Memorandum of Understanding between the County and SEIU Local 620, which represents the majority of nonmanagement County employees, identifies a process by which employees may request a classification study on their own behalf.
Departments can reprioritize their job requests with the Personnel Department and often do. The Personnel Department continually prioritizes its jobs in conjunction with the County Administrator as well. The Personnel Department necessarily performs this reprioritization to deal with immediate hirings and reorganization, but the department has no objective of staying current with job..classifications overall.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Personnel Department endeavors to review those positions and classes that are most critical to the County's mission - usually these involve recruitments and reorganizations. We believe the current practice is adequate for the County's needs.
Open Testing and Hiring
Testing is performed for a job when there are ten or more people applying for the position. If less than ten, no test is given. If a test is conducted, the Personnel Department provides the hiring department with a list of at least ten qualified applicants based upon their performance on the test. Applicants scoring sixty-nine percent or less are dropped from consideration. This list is referred to as a certified list, and is compiled according to this Rule of Ten.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Personnel Department does not give "ranking" test ID to applicants for open recruitments unless more than ten qualified applicants apply., If there are fewer than ten applicants, an examination of the applicants' qualifications is used as the testing procedure.
The Rule of Ten evolved from a Rule of Three in the early 1980's, according to the Personnel Department. This was done for three reasons: one, to respond to the lack of good predictability on some tests; two, to meet affirmative action goals; and three, to provide more candidates to departments.
The latest affirmative action data (applicant flow data) provided by the Personnel Department to the Grand Jury was dated 1991-92, though other Departments had more recent applicant flow data. The Personnel Department made no attempt to monitor whether the Rule of Ten has been effective in helping to meet the County's affirmative action goals.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Grand Jury asked for a "sample" affirmative action report. The Personnel Department's memo to the Grand Jury clearly identified the 1991 report as a "sample."
The Grand Jury is correct that the Personnel Department made no attempt to monitor whether the Rule of Ten was effective in helping to meet the County's affirmative action goals. However, the Affirmative Action Officer does monitor the Rule of Ten and has indicated that it has been an effective tool in meeting goals.
Personnel records show that over the past twenty-six months, hiring has been at an annual rate of 337 employees. The Personnel Department could not tell the Grand Jury with any certainty how many of these people were hired from existing lists (a list of passing applicants maybe retained for up to two years) and how many from new recruitments and classifications.
Personnel Director's Comment: We informed the Grand Jur that the Personnel .
Department could not, without significant manual research, tell how many employees came from existing lists and how many came from new recruitments. However, we did indicate that since 253 requests for certified lists required new recruitments prior to the certification, that they could assume that approximately the same number of employees were hired as a result of the new recruitments and that the remaining employees were either additional hires from these same 253 recruitments or were hires from eligible lists established in the prior year.
Recruitments are conducted to rill one or more vacancies during the life of the list. For example, eligible lists from some recruitments are used many times; others are used only once. Two recruitments are usually conducted each year to fill open Clerk Typist II positions in Santa Barbara. The resulting eligible list from each recruitment is used for six months and for approximately ten to twenty hires. On the other hand, the Mental Health Director eligible HA, which was created as the result of a recruitment, will be "used" only once.
Personnel records show that there was an average of two certified lists required for each person hired. The Personnel Department testified there could be up to three or four certified lists for a particular hire. When hiring for a particular position, two or more certified lists are often necessary for several reasons: there is apparently no effective effort to screen for sufficient interest in County employment; no-shows are allowed to remain on a certified list up to three times before they are dropped; and, multiple certifications of the same list are issued when several departments are hiring for the same position. These policies create a significant waste of time in the Personnel Department as well as the hiring departments.
Recent recruiting dam provided by the Personnel Department was confusing and created many more unanswered questions:
· There were 422 positions to be filled in 1994, but only 236 recruitments were opened in 1994
· The Personnel Department could not explain why there were apparently 186 positions left open from the prior year
· Of the 236 recruitments opened in 1994, 100 were departmental promotions and twelve were from other County departments
These facts could not be fully reconciled with the information provided by the Personnel Department that to fill those positions, plus the ones left over from 1993, they had to develop 253 new lists to add to the 726 lists that had already been certified.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Grand Jury appears to have misunderstood the certification process. The certification process is outlined in the Civil Service Rules. County departments are required to consider the top ten certified eligibles but are not required to interview all eligibles certified. To save the Personnel Department and the departments time, extra names are certified in case some of the ten candidates are not interested in working in that particular department, or are unavailable at the time of the interview. Departments may request additional certifications from alternative lists, such as transfers from other departments, transfers from other jurisdictions, persons on reemployment lists because of lay off, etc. Some departments, at the time of their vacancy, request up to four different list certifications at the same time to give them the greatest degree of flexibility. These factors may have led to the Grand Jury's confusion over multiple certifications for one vacancy and an incorrect impression that multiple certifications are due to no-shows.
Before certifying an eligible fist that has been in existence for any length of time, the Personnel Department polls the applicants to determine current availability and interest in County employment. The Personnel Department has received few complaints from departments that would indicate that the number of no-shows is a problem.
It is unclear why the Grand Jury concluded that in 1994, since 236 recruitments were conducted but 422 people were hired, that 186 positions were "left open" from 1993. This is an inaccurate conclusion. The 186 persons were either additional hires from the same 236 recruitments, were vacancies created in 1994 but hired from 1993 eligible lists, and/or were vacancies created late in 1993 but not filled until 1994.
The Grand Jury indicated that all "no-shows" should be immediately removed from an eligible list and not allowed three waivers before they are dropped. This type of response to "no-shows" would increase the cost of recruiting unnecessarily because an applicant may decline consideration in one department or location but be very interested in another.
The Personnel Department does not do promotional testing, although according to Civil Service
Rules, promotional testing is the responsibility of the Personnel Department. Rule Six, Section
601 of the Santa Barbara County Civil Service Rules states that:
The Personnel Director shall schedule examinations to fill vacancies in the classified service or to provide eligible lists for classes of positions where vacancies are likely to occur, and shall prepare or acquire, announce, and conduct such examinations as provided in these Rules. An examination may be scheduled and conducted as a promotional examination, as an open examination, or as both. (emphasis added)
There is no oversight required of the Personnel Department over departments that do their own promotional testing. The Personnel Department subscribes to a question bank which they pay for on an annual basis. The departments develop their own questions with no use of the question bank nor any supervision of promotional tests by the Personnel Department. This could partially explain why complaints about promotional testing are occurring.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Personnel Department eliminated "ranking" tests for promotional recruitments with more than ten applicants in Fiscal Year 1992-93 in conjunction with staffing reductions. The majority of promotional recruitments result in less than ten qualified applicants. Historically in all recruitments with less than 10 applicants "ranking tests" are not conducted. An examination of the applicant's written qualifications is conducted as the exam for these recruitments.
For those departments who have had larger promotional applicant pools and who wish to do their own "rankiny" tests in addition to other selection activities, the Personnel Department has arranged for training on selecting written test questions from an item bank, assisted departments in the selection of an appropriate written test, and helped train departments to score tests, and review and interpret test statistics. The Personnel Department is aware of only one complaint about departmental promotional testing; that complaint was resolved. We are unaware of other complaints the Grand Jury refers to.
The Personnel Department's role in placing the 100 departmental promotions of 1994 was not clear when other testimony by its representatives indicated that it no longer prepared tests or lists for departmental promotions.
This data as provided would indicate that the Personnel Department has incomplete and/or conflicting data on promotional testing, or that it cannot account for its role in this process.
Personnel Director's Comment: Under the Civil Service Rules, the Personnel Department is required to conduct promotional recruitments and does so. The Personnel Department opened 100 promotional recruitments in 1994, conducted an evaluation of the applicants' qualifications as the examination, and certified the promotional eligible lists to the departments in each of the promotional recruitments.
Testimony was that transferring all promotional testing to the departments was for the purpose of reducing the Personnel Department's workload, and furthermore, that it only affected four departments (Sheriff, Fire, Probation, and Social Services). The Grand Jury noted that more than four departments are affected, as it made an evaluation of complaints over promotional testing in the Public Works Department, as found in the 1994-95 Grand Jury Report, "Issues in Public Works. " A significant problem was created in the Public Works Department this past year when the department did its own promotional testing in which sixteen people applied for Lead Maintenance Worker positions, and complaints of unfair promotions and unfair testing developed. This indicates that promotional testing clearly affects more than four departments.
Personnel Director's Comment: The Grand Jury is correct. The Personnel Department apologizes for failing to update its list and now includes the newly consolidated Public Works Department on this list; five departments, not four, would now be affected.
Regardless of the actual number of departments that this transfer of responsibility of promotional testing affects, departments performing their own promotional tests can create an atmosphere of mistrust and favoritism between management and staff, as well as complaints about unfair testing practices.
Personnel Director's Comment: In the last three years, approximately 247 promotional recruitments were conducted. Out of these 247 recruitments, only one complaint was received concerning a department's handling of a promotional process. It, therefore, does not appear to us that a problem exists with the current practice. We believe that County departments have sufficient skills in evaluating their own employees and making promotional decisions. In our opinion, departments do not need to place an emphasis on an objective test because their best information is already before them, i.e., past work performance. However, the Personnel Department does work with departments to help them develop job-related, objective tests where the departments believe they need that additional information.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS
The Grand Jury believes the Personnel Department's role consists of the following to provide potential employees to departments through qualification procedures; to recommend personnel policies; to implement personnel policies on a fair, even, and timely basis; to negotiate with County bargaining units; and to keep current, accurate, and appropriate records.
Personnel Director's Comment: In addition to the activities listed above as the Personnel Department role, our office has the following responsibilities.
1. We provide the staff to the Civil Service Commission and advise departments and the Civil Service Commission on Civil Service issues including equal employment, fair employment, discipline, and layoff.
2. We administer all employee benefit programs including but not limited to four medical insurance plans, two dental insurance plans, two life insurance programs, one Long Term Disability insurance plan, education allowance program, Flexible Spending Program and its components - Medical Spending and Dependent Spending, Accident and Life insurance plans, six retiree medical plans, Coastal Housing Partnership Program, and annual employee benefit statements.
3. We administer a variety of countywide programs including Employee of the Month, employee service awards, I.D. card program, pre-employment medicals, DOT drug and alcohol testing, County training programs including our Liebert Cassidy Consortium training, new supervisor training, and new employee orientation, etc.
4. We maintain personnel riles and control systems for activities such as authorized positions, special duty pay, management specialists, extra-help extensions, extra-help special designations, nepotism review and second job review.
5. We are the County's agent for employee relations and negotiate and administer contracts ("MOU's") with seven employee organizations; advise County departments on MOU matters; advise departments on grievance processing, and represent the County in administrative hearings. We administer the County's Employee Relations policy and a wide variety of other County policies regarding employees.
6. We conduct all recruitments and test applicants; conduct reference checks on executive candidates; classify and recommend compensation for all positions; administer the Salary Inequity Program; determine eligibility for overtime based in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act; are actively involved in County's efforts to meet its AA goals and assist in the County's'. Affirmative Action Plan revisions; assist departments in making reasonable accommodations for employees and applicants with disabilities.
The Personnel Department shares with each department in the County a major role in employee morale and satisfaction. Among other factors, employee morale is affected by prompt responses to the employee's real or perceived problems; adherence to all County and Civil Service Rules; understandable policies; and a promotional testing system deemed fair and equitable, all of which the Personnel Department has a significant responsibility in maintaining.
There is no attempt to keep job classifications current, and the interviewing and hiring process is made more difficult by the way testing and the qualification for the certified lists is done, which sometimes requires three or four lists and up to fifteen potential interviewees per list for each open position.
Personnel Director's Comment: Readers should refer to our earlier comments on these topics.
There are several current policies of the Personnel Department which are in conflict with County Civil Service Rules, and no evidence of efforts to correct this situation were evident to the Grand Jury. This may be partially because the Civil Service Commission does not appear to be aware of these conflicts.
Personnel Director's Comment: Readers should refer to our earlier comments on these topics.
Significant testimony indicated that the Personnel Department was unresponsive or extremely late in responding to departmental officials and individual employees. Such a problem with communication can lead individuals to the strong perception of being deliberately ignored, whether or not this is the reality.
Personnel Director's Comment: Readers should refer to our earlier comments on these subjects.
This caused the Grand Jury's own investigative efforts to be significantly frustrated and delayed because the Personnel Department provided data from their records much of which was conflicting, incomplete, and not current. The Personnel Department appeared to the Grand Jury to be undisciplined and disorganized.
Personnel Director's Comment: We respectfully disagree with the Grand Jury's conclusions. On two occasions we requested the Grand Jury subcommittee come to the Personnel Department and receive a tour of our operations and a more comprehensive explanation of our services and responsibilities. Unfortunately this did not occur and on hindsight, this may have avoided several misunderstandings that we have attempted to correct in this response.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
FINDING #1: The lack of the Personnel Department's involvement in the handling of promotional testing can and has created an atmosphere of mistrust and favoritism. Also, the County is currently out of compliance with present Civil Service Rules which state that the Personnel Department should be doing promotional testing.
RECOMMENDATION #1: The Board of Supervisors should require the Personnel Department and the Civil Service Commission to reconcile these contradictions regarding promotional testing. The Board should either, preferably, direct the Personnel Department to provide or coordinate all promotional testing, or alternatively, modify the Civil Service Rules.
Personnel Director's Response: We do not agree that there is an atmosphere of mistrust and favoritism, also we respectfully disagree that there is a contradiction between the Personnel Department practice and the Civil Service Rule. The Grand Jury has misunderstood the Rule and the Personnel Department's testimony as to its practices. The Civil Service Rule requires that the Personnel Director conduct a promotional examination. That is in fact what occurs. Promotional applications are reviewed to determine if the candidates meet job related employment standards and all applicants who do so are given a test score of 70%. This application review is an examination under the rules. The Personnel Department no longer conducts a formal "ranking test" for promotional recruitments where there are more than ten applicants. The Personnel Department alsoprovides assistance and training to departments as to whatever selection devices they may wish to utilize to further rank promotional candidates.
FINDING #2: There is no specific procedure for reviewing existing job classifications, which permits an excessive number of obsolete and/or out-of-date descriptions to be in use. This is not acceptable personnel management and is in conflict with Civil Service Rules.
RECOMMENDATI0N #2: The Board of Supervisors should direct the County Administrator to require the Personnel Department to establish a proper system of review for job descriptions at a minimum of every four years.
Personnel Director's Response: There is a procedure for reviewing existing job classifications. It is as follows: the Personnel Department reviews job classifications in the following circumstances prior to when they are used in recruitments, tests, or class studies; when a department head requests it; when the Personnel Department believes there is a good reason to believe that the class is out of date or when a reorganization causes the class concept to change. The procedure results in the majority of class specifications being reasonably current. In an environment where cost was not a consideration, the Personnel Department would be supportive of this very expensive recommendation. However, given the County's financial status, the Personnel Department cannot realistically support this recommendation. We believe that the current method of reviewing classifications which results in the majority of classes being reasonably current, is appropriate and effective.
County Administrator's Comment: Concur with the Personnel Director's response.
FINDING #3: It appears that since 98 % of job classifications have an average of three people per job classification and there is an unknown number of unused job classifications, the classification system has become over-complicated and overly specific.
RECOMMENDATION #3: The Board of Supervisors should direct the County Administrator to require the Personnel Department or an outside consultant to review and attempt to simplify the classification system.
Personnel Director's Response: A system that arbitrarily limits County departments to a limited number of classes without consideration of business reasons for needing diverse classifications, may have negative impact on departmental operations, as well as adding significant costs to County operations from salary increases. For that reason, the Personnel Director will discuss with department heads (our customers) whether the current classification system meets their needs or not, as well as the pros and cons of limiting the number of classifications. If County executives agree that the number of classifications can be significantly reduced, without increased costs or operational consequences, the County should then implement the Grand Jury recommendation.
The pros and cons of simplifying the classification system should be understood and
evaluated before any decision to change it and we would be happy to develop a list of pros and cons for discussion with department heads and the County Administrator.
County Administrator's Comment: Concur with the Personnel Director's response.
FINDING #4: There is apparently poor construction and administration of certified hiring lists when no-shows and other factors require an average of two certified lists and up to three or four certified lists to fill a position.
RECOMMENDATION #4a: The Personnel Department should review testing and other qualifying procedures to determine why so many applicants are rejected, and modify the procedure.
RECOMMENDATION #4b: The Personnel Department should adopt a strict policy of dropping all no-shows from certified lists.
Personnel Director's 4a Response: The Personnel Department has received few if any complaints from County departments regarding excessive "no-shows" or that departments are receiving too many applicants to consider in filling their vacancies. However, the Personnel Department will survey department heads as to their opinions regarding the Rule of Ten and the rules pertaining to removal of names from lists. Based on the results of these surveys, the Personnel Department will propose rule chances to the Civil Service Commission as deemed appropriate.
Personnel Director's 4b Response: A Civil Service Rule revision would be necessary to implement this recommendation. The Personnel Department will request the Civil Service Commission hear testimony on this rule and consider what modifications if any are appropriate.
FINDING #5: The Personnel Department, while a service department whose purpose is to assist the other departments in developing and maintaining a productive staff, did not approach those departments as customers to be properly and pleasantly served.
RECOMMENDATION #5a: The Board of Supervisors should request the AuditorController to conduct a complete management audit of the Personnel Department and recommend any new procedures deemed appropriate.
RECOMMENDATION #5b: The Personnel Department should adopt any and all appropriate recommendations made by the Auditor-Controller in his management audit.
Personnel Director's 5a & 5b Response: The Personnel Department respectfully disagrees with the Finding and with these two recommendations. We do not think that the Grand Jury presented evidence which would justify a management audit. If an audit is conducted, we would request an impartial, outside consultant expert in public personnel administration be hired to perform such audit. We also think it HI advised to commit to adopt, sight unseen, recommendations by any party.
Notwithstanding our disagreement with recommendations 5a and 5b, during 1995196, the Personnel Department will conduct a customer service survey with all County departments and the Civil Service Commission regarding our services to ascertain their degree of satisfaction with these services and what changes would be appropriate. The survey results and our department's strategic plans to address the survey results win be shared with the County Administrator's Office, all department heads, and the Board of Supervisors. We believe this more direct alternative to the Grand Jury recommendation that would involve all of the users of Personnel's services would be more effective and appropriate.
The Personnel Department is already audited periodically by the Merit Systems Services Division of Cooperative Personnel Services as to its compliance with State Merit System Standards and Federal merit principles. Merit Systems Services completed an audit of the Santa Barbara County Personnel Department in June 1990 (a copy of which is Attachment 2). The County's Rules and the Personnel Department's practices were found to be in compliance in all areas of review including selection, affirmative action/equal employment opportunity, employer/employee relations, classification and compensation, and personnel transactions. If the Personnel Department had been found to be in substantial noncompliance, federal grant-in-aid funds would have been withdrawn from the County. If the Board of Supervisors wishes, we could request Merit Systems Services schedule their next periodic audit of Santa Barbara County in the next year. (There is no cost to the County for this audit.)
The County's Civil Service Commission does provide oversight review of the Personnel Department's practices and administration of the Civil Service Rules through its rule making and investigative activities.
County Administrator's Comment: Concur with the Personnel Director's response.
FINDING #6: There is a problem receiving prompt, and in some cases, any, response from the Personnel Department when problems are raised or requests for information are submitted by phone, voice mail or in written correspondence to the Personnel Department by other departments or individual employees.
RECOMMENDATION #6.- Phone messages and/or voice mail left with the Personnel Department should receive a same-day response. All complaints and/or requests should receive a prompt response and a date when the employee or department can expect a final reply.
Personnel Director's Response: The Personnel Department agrees that prompt response to inquiries is appropriate and we will continue to attempt to respond as quickly as practical and renew our efforts to provide anticipated dates for final replies.
AFFECTED AGENCIES (California Penal Code Section 933c requires that comments to Finding and Recommendations be made in writing within 60 days by all affected agencies except governing bodies, which are allowed 90 days.)
1. Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors
2. Santa Barbara County Administrator
3. Santa Barbara County Personnel Department
4. Santa Barbara County Auditor-Controller
5. Santa Barbara County Civil Service Commission
Santa Barbara County Civil Service Rules
Letter from the Personnel Director to the Grand Jury regarding Classification
Information, dated December 8, 1994
Letter from the Deputy Personnel Director to the Grand Jury regarding Response to
Information Request of March 10, 1995, dated March 17, 1995
Letter from the Deputy Personnel Director to the Grand Jury regarding Response to
Information Request of March 21, 1995, dated March 28, 1995
Letter from the Deputy Personnel Director to the Grand Jury regarding Turnover
Statistics, dated April 27, 1995
Classification and Compensation Stud of selected classes in the Data Processing Series,
County of Santa Barbara, Final Report, April 1994, Becker and Bell, Inc.