SANTA BARBARA COUNTY GRAND JURY 1997-1998

 

FINAL REPORT

 

EMPLOYEE TRAINING IN THE COUNTY

 

Released May 11, 1998

 

BACKGROUND

 

With over four thousand employees, Santa Barbara County government is the third largest employer in the county. Training of these employees is part of the Strategic Plan adopted by the Board of Supervisors in April of 1996.

 

In February 1997 the "Progress Report on the Board of Supervisors' Strategic Plan" was presented to the Board of Supervisors that included several Action Items and recommendations on personnel training. These recommendations by the Policy Committee and Personnel Department did not make it through the budget process.

The 1997-98 budget marks a new emphasis in county government with the implementation of "performance based" budgeting. In the Recommended Budget for 1997-98, entitled "Paths to Performance," the County Administrator’s message states:

This document sets forth, from a new perspective,

a coherent, rational and measurable basis for examining

the local use of taxpayer dollars as well as laying

groundwork for new paths to performance.

The budget document contains an Organizational Effectiveness Program which contains four goals, including one to "Develop a county-wide comprehensive training plan."

 

With this emphasis on performance and the recognition that training would be part of the improvement of performance, the Grand Jury decided to find out:

 

To accomplish this, a survey was sent to nineteen county departments asking the following four questions:

1. What kind of training is offered

(a) On-the-job?

(b) Formal?

2. What is the cost of training?

3. What line item in the budget is used to charge training costs?

  1. How is the effectiveness of the training measured?

 

Results of the survey were compiled. Follow-up interviews were conducted for additional information or to learn more in depth about specific items mentioned in the survey responses.

 

Survey Responses

The responses indicate that the county budgets and spends over 1.6 million dollars to provide on-the-job and formal (outside the workplace) training for its employees. However, when reviewing the county’s 1997-98 annual budget, only four departments (Social Services, Administration, Probation, and Fire) had a budget item clearly identifying "training." These items total just under 1.5 million dollars. Five different budget line items were used to charge training costs. (See Attachment A)

 

Countywide training is offered in these instances:

 

Several departments mentioned training subjects which were not job specific: conflict resolution, mediation, stress management, negotiating strategies, project management, grant writing, team building, time management, writing skills, customer service, new supervisor training, and CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation).

 

Many departments require training for the specific function of their operation: Fire, Sheriff, Probation, Health Care Services, Public Works, medical and legal professionals. Some of this mandated training is grant funded.

 

The Sheriff’s Department indicated that there is a computer structure developed through the County’s Financial Information Network (FIN), Project Code #2000, that provides

 

five coding fields to enable tracking of training costs: Program, Organization, Project, Area and Activity. According to the department, these fields are used as follows:

1. Program Code – functionally, for fee development;

2. Organization Code – administrative lines of authority, for internal accountability;

3. Project Code – by event, case, contract, grant, or project, for billing purposes;

4. Area Code – by geographic area, for analysis;

5. Activity Code – how time is spent on sub-functions.

The Sheriff's Department is the only county department that indicated the existence of such a computer capability for tracking training costs.

With the decentralization of county functions, there are significant differences among departments and their approaches to training:

 

Additional Information

 

The budget for 1997-98 contains this item:

In line with the Board of Supervisors’ adopted Strategic Plan – which

promotes staff training and career development, $202,000 has been

included in this budget for training in customer service; labor-management collaboration, operations research, performance budgeting, project

management, process engineering, and other skills calculated to promote flexibility in assignments and thereby strengthening performances and customer satisfaction.

 

This fiscal year the County Administrator requested and was allocated funds to create a new position in his department. The newly created Organizational Effectiveness and Training Office, with a Director of Organizational Effectiveness, will "implement a comprehensive training and development program which imbues all employees with the values of leadership, performance excellence, and customer service and which supports them as they increase their professional capacities."

 

To accomplish this program, the Organizational Effectiveness and Training Office is to develop specific training modalities of (1) leadership; (2) resource management;

(3) effective communication; (4) organizational systems; (5) strategic thinking; and

(6) public and customer service. The over all goal is to improve customer service and responsiveness.

 

This new attempt at countywide coordination of training is a major change in the County’s decentralized structure which places decisions at the department level. In fact, Civil Service Rule 16 places the responsibility for job training and continuing development of each employee solely on the department head.

 

FINDINGS

  1. There is no countywide coordination of various training needs and resources.
  2. Based on the responses provided, there is no consistency in how departments identify or charge training costs to their budget.
  3. There is no consistency in measuring the effectiveness of the training at the department level.
  4. Civil Service Rule 16 does not allow training to be required by anyone other than a department head.
  5. There is no countywide operational definition for on-the-job training. This factor can lead to differences in identification of training costs among departments.
  6. There is no documented direct connection between training that an individual receives, individual job performance and departmental budget performance measures.
  7. There is a need for managers and supervisors to have training in county policies, management techniques, county operations, legal responsibilities, etc.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

It appears that formalized training in the county can be categorized three ways:

  1. continuing education classes to maintain licenses or certifications
  2. skills and/or technical training, necessary to be able to do one’s job;

(3) management classes, seminars and conferences that are of interest but not necessarily specific to the work of the department.

 

In the Grand Jury’s opinion, a sound basis for determining the dollar amount of the yearly training budget does not exist. Other than New Employee Orientation conducted by the Personnel Department, there are no mandated core training courses such as Customer Service, Leadership, or how to conduct an Employee Performance Evaluation.

 

COMMENDATIONS

 

All departments responded in a timely manner to our request for responses to the survey. We appreciate their cooperation.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

  1. A method for countywide coordination of management training needs and resources should be established and administered. [Finding 1]
  2. Topics for training requested by employees should be forwarded and monitored by the County Administrator’s office. [Finding 1]
  3. A single budget line item identified as "Training" should be created and used to consistently track the cost of employee training including direct labor, travel, tuition, books and materials. [Finding 2]
  4. The Financial Information Network should be used consistently by all departments to track training costs. [Finding 2]
  5. A method should be established to consistently measure the effectiveness of training.
  6. The county should review Civil Service Rule 16 to assure that affected employees attend countywide core management training. [Finding 4]
  7. On-the-job training should be clearly defined and consistently utilized by all departments. [Finding 5]
  8. The county should develop an in-house management training program and require all supervisors and managers to attend. [Finding 7]

 

AFFECTED AGENCIES (those required to respond)

County Board of Supervisors [Findings 1-7 and Recommendations 1-8]

County Administrator [Findings 1-7 and Recommendations 1-8]

 

 

Affected Agency

We want to advise you that California Penal Code Section 933.05 requires that responses to Grand Jury Findings and Recommendations must be made in writing to the Presiding Judge of the Superior Court and the Grand Jury Foreperson within 90 days (Governing bodies) or 60 days (Department heads) of the issuance of the report

Therefore the Grand Jury requires that you respond to each of the Findings and Recommendations that applies to your agency.

Please send your response to:

Honorable Judge Frank J. Oachoa,

Presiding Judge, Santa Barbara County Superior Court

1100 Anacapa Street

Santa Barbara, CA. 93121 and to the

Grand Jury Foreperson at the same address.

 

Responses to the Grand Jury should be submitted on a 3 ½ inch computer disk (preferably in Word) along with the printed response.

 

FOR ATTACHMENT A - SEE PUBLISHED FINAL REPORT