|Budget Issue:||Proposal for 18 Positions in Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources|
|Program:||Department of Conservation|
|Finding or Recommendation:||Reject Governor’s proposal for 18 additional positions in the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources because of lack of workload justification, the existance of existing vacant positions, and the need to evaluate a planned "roadmap" that may change the workload responsibilities for the division.|
Background. The Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) is responsible for regulating all onshore and offshore hydrocarbon field operations in California in order to prevent damage to state resources and provide adequate protection for oil field workers and surrounding communities. The DOGGR evaluates permit applications to drill, rework, and plug oil and gas operations in the state, including abandoned wells. It also provides expertise to local planning agencies and building developers when new developments are proposed over historic oil field operations.
Governor’s Proposal. The Governor’s 2012-13 budget requests an increase of 18 permanent positions and $2.5 million ($2.3 million ongoing) from the Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Administrative Fund to “enhance the onshore and offshore regulatory programs of the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) by improving its construction site review, environmental compliance, and underground injection control (UIC) programs, and strengthening the division’s support staff.”
The oil and gas industry has changed significantly over the past three decades with many technological advancements having been made in drilling and recovery techniques. However, according to DOGGR, the division has not kept up with the changing industrial landscape, and, therefore, they argue it is currently understaffed to meet current workload demands, as well as an ongoing backlog in workload that has developed in recent years. According to the administration, prior to 2010, DOGGR last requested new positions in 1987.
LAO Concerns. We raise three concerns with the Governor’s proposal for additional DOGGR positions. Specifically, (1) the administration has not done a workload analysis to justify the positions requested, (2) many of the positions recently approved for this division are still vacant, and (3) the department is currently developing a new “roadmap” for the division that may significantly change its workload and staffing needs. We discuss each of these issues below.
LAO Recommendations. We recommend the Legislature deny the Governor’s proposal for additional DOGGR positions. The administration has not provided the Legislature with adequate information regarding the position authority necessary to reduce the current workload. In addition, we believe it would be appropriate for the department to prioritize filling the high number of vacant positions recently authorized by the Legislature before new positions are authorized.
Additionally, the new roadmap currently being developed by the department may provide new direction and priorities to the division which could result in changes in workload and staffing needs. Therefore, it may be premature to authorize any new positions for the division until the DOGGR roadmap has been completed and an evaluation of the ongoing position need of the department is done. Given the policy implications of the new roadmap, we expect that legislative policy committees, as well as the budget committees, will want to review the plan. Thus, we also recommend that the Legislature direct DOC to submit a workload analysis in conjunction with its completed roadmap to the appropriate policy and budget committees. This workload analysis should provide details on the division’s existing positions, how workload and responsibilities would change under the roadmap, and how the division’s staffing needs would be affected by the roadmap. To the extent that the roadmap is consistent with legislative priorities, this workload analysis could then serve as the basis for future adjustments to the division’s position and funding authority.