The Commission on Correctional Peace Officers' Standards and Training is a joint management-employee panel responsible for establishing job training standards for correctional staff and monitoring compliance with those standards. The commission administers the correctional peace officer apprenticeship program. It develops, approves, and monitors selection and training standards applied by the Departments of Corrections (CDC) and the Youth Authority. The panel also issues decisions on complaints or recommendations from interested parties on its rules, regulations, standards, or decisions.
In the past, the commission's funding was included in the budget of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency. This year, for the first time, the Governor's budget plan establishes a separate budget item for the commission reflecting its operation, henceforth, as an independent entity.
The budget proposes $2.3 million in expenditures from the General Fund in 2000-01, an increase of $1.7 million, or 267 percent, over estimated current-year spending. The increase is due to a proposal to expand the operations of the commission in compliance with the mandates of 1998 legislation further defining its role and duties.
A report by the Commission on Correctional Peace Officers' Standards and Training on realigning training for Departments of Corrections (CDC) and the Youth Authority correctional cadets was due September 1, 1999, but had not been provided to the Legislature at the time this analysis was prepared. The commission should report its findings at budget hearings so that the Legislature will be in a position to consider the merit of further changes to CDC and Youth Authority training operations that could have a major impact on state costs.
Report Required by 1998 Legislation. Chapter 762, Statutes of 1998 (AB 271, Villaraigosa), directed the Commission on Correctional Peace Officers' Standards and Training to report to the Governor and the Legislature by September 1, 1999, concerning the training standards for correctional officers and their supervisors of CDC and the Youth Authority. The legislation states that the report should include a description of the standards for the curriculum taught at the respective training academies of the two state correctional departments and the length of time required to satisfactorily train officers for their duties.
We have been advised by the commission that is has completed a report that has been submitted to the Governor's office for review. At the time this analysis was prepared, however, more than four months after the statutory deadline for its submission, the Legislature has yet to receive the report.
We are advised that the commission's report may recommend restructuring training operations, including lengthening the basic correctional officers' academy to 16 weeks, limiting training to a maximum eight hours per day, requiring 80 hours of training for correctional sergeants before they can start their assignment, and revisions of training courses to more adequately address such issues as cultural diversity and sexual harassment.
Implementation of such changes could have significant effects on the day-to-day operations of the two departments and could potentially increase state costs by millions or even tens of millions of dollars. In order to fully assess the merits of these proposals, as well as to consider any alternatives for improving CDC and Youth Authority training programs, it is important that the Legislature receive the overdue report in time for appropriate review and discussion in its budget subcommittee hearings.
Analyst's Recommendation. For these reasons, we recommend that the commission report at budget hearings on the findings of the Chapter 762 report so that the Legislature will be in a position to consider the merits of further changes to CDC training operations as part of the 2000-01 budget deliberations.
We recommend approval of the budget request for a $1.7 million augmentation for the commission to more fully enforce correctional staff training standards and comply with other legislative mandates. We further recommend the adoption of supplemental report language directing the commission to use part of these new resources to conduct audits of the implementation to date of a major expansion in state-paid staff time for on-the-job training.
Funding and Staffing Increase Sought. The commission's 2000-01 budget plan includes a request for a General Fund augmentation of $1.7 million and 15.8 personnel-years to bring its operations more fully into compliance with statutory requirements. Given that the commission now has a total staff of three and significant responsibilities, we agree that these additional resources are needed if it is to accomplish its statutory mission and thus we recommend approval of the proposed augmentation.
The state law which created the commission defines the roles of CDC and the Youth Authority as well as the role of the commission in the operation of correctional staff training programs. The CDC and the Youth Authority are responsible for the design and delivery of the training programs, the conduct of validation studies, and program support. The commission establishes standards for those programs and is responsible for monitoring the departments to ensure that those standards are met. The commission further has the authority to disapprove any training courses if it determines that they do not meet its standards.
Although the commission was created by statute 13 years ago, its role to date in monitoring and enforcing training standards has been severely hampered by a lack of resources. We believe the additional funding and staffing included in the 2000-01 budget provide an opportunity for the commission to ensure that state training programs meet its standards and are being operated cost-effectively. We further recommend that the commission use part of those additional resources to conduct audits of the so-called "7k" on-the-job training program implemented by CDC and the Youth Authority.
Additional Training Hours Funded. The 7k program (a reference to Section 207 [k] of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act), is the result of contract negotiations with the labor organization representing CDC and Youth Authority correctional staff. Beginning in 1998-99, the standard work week for these staff members--including correctional officers, correctional counselors, and parole agents--was increased to add, on average, two more paid working hours per week to the regular 40 hours of pay those workers previously received.
One of those two additional state-paid hours per week is to compensate staff for the extra time it may take an employee to get to his or her post by the time a shift at work begins. The other state-paid hour is intended as compensation for participation in on-site training programs. Thus, the state committed in 1998-99 and subsequent contract agreements to pay for 52 hours per year of on-the-job training. Until then, only eight hours per year of such training was required for most correctional staff.
We estimate that the cost of the 7k training hours will amount to about $36 million in 2000-01, with $33 million in 7k training hours paid for CDC personnel and more than $3 million spent for this purpose at the Youth Authority. In addition, the CDC last year received an additional budget augmentation of $2.3 million for two instructional designers to develop new 7k curriculum and 33 correctional sergeants--one per state prison--to run the training programs at their facilities.
Analyst's Recommendation. Given this significant and ongoing investment in state resources, we recommend that the commission be provided the $1.7 million augmentation it has requested and that the commission be directed to use part of those resources to conduct audits that would include, but not be limited, to the following matters:
We believe the audits can and should be accomplished within existing resources because this activity is consistent with the purposes of the proposed budget augmentation, which include field monitoring of the implementation of training programs to ensure they meet the commission's standards.
Accordingly, we recommend the adoption of the following supplemental report language:
It is the intent of the Legislature that the Commission on Correctional Peace Officers' Standards and Training conduct audits of the "7k" training program including, but not limited to, the following matters: an examination of whether the additional state-paid hours are actually being used for training and the reasons if pay is being provided without the occurrence of training; a review of whether the training courses offered under the 7k agreement meet commission standards, are appropriate for the correctional or parole units and the particular staff members attending them, and are scheduled in an appropriate fashion; and an examination of the process by which 7k training courses are designed, approved, implemented, and evaluated. The commission shall provide recommendations for improvement of 7k training programs if any are warranted, as well as an appropriate approach for ongoing monitoring to ensure that this training adheres to commission training standards. The commission shall accomplish this audit by examining what it deems to be a representative sample of adult prisons, Youth Authority facilities, and parole units. The audit findings in regard to Youth Authority facilities and parole operations shall be reported by December 1, 2000, and in regard to the California Department of Corrections' prisons and parole operations by December 1, 2001, to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee and the fiscal committees of both houses of the Legislature.