LAO 2006-07 Budget Analysis: General Government

Analysis of the 2006-07 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2006

State Personnel Board (1880)

Established by the State Constitution, the State Personnel Board (SPB) oversees many aspects of the civil service system in state government. The SPB adopts civil service rules and regulations. Duties include adopting classifications within the civil service system, conducting hearings and appeals on certain disciplinary matters, and administering the merit-based civil service hiring and promotional process. On a reimbursement basis, SPB also administers merit systems for certain local employers to ensure compliance with federal requirements. The Governor appoints, subject to Senate confirmation, the five members of SPB for ten-year terms.

The budget proposes $19 million for SPB support in 2006-07, which is $728,000, or 3.9 percent, more than estimated current-year expenditures. The proposed expenditures consist of $4 million from the General Fund and $15 million in reimbursements from state departments and other government entities.

Planning Is Insufficient for Proposed Web Site

We recommend rejecting the joint State Personnel Board and Department of Personnel Administration request for $200,000 from the General Fund in 2006-07 and $100,000 per year thereafter to improve the state’s human resources Web site. The project is not well developed, and required planning documents have not been submitted. (Reduce Item 1880-001-0001 by $100,000.)

Existing Web Sites. Currently, just as California’s personnel management system is split between SPB and the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA), the two agencies have separate Web sites. According to the administration, the two sites impede the efforts of job seekers because they both contain unique information needed by applicants and are not coordinated. The DPA reports that it has 0.5 staff positions and $50,000 devoted to management of its Web site. The SPB reports that it has 2.5 staff positions and more than $260,000 in resources devoted to its Web site.

Proposal for New Web Site. The administration requests $100,000 from the General Fund for DPA in 2006-07 and $50,000 per year on an ongoing basis to design and maintain a single state human resources Web site. The SPB requests an identical amount of budget authority for this joint project. Both departments say their staff members have limited expertise in the types of Web design needed to implement this project. The agencies have convened focus groups, and the proposal includes some general ideas of changes that could be made to the sites. For instance, the departments express the need to redesign existing pages in a more user-friendly format, to show total compensation packages for positions, and to allow searches for state jobs using common terminology. In general, we agree with these goals.

Required Planning Documents Not Submitted. The DPA and SPB have not submitted feasibility study reports (FSRs) for this project. Under state policy, FSRs are required for this project. Preparation of FSRs would have required the departments to address potentially complicated technical issues with the proposal for a new Web site. For instance, new functions of a Web site identified by DPA and SPB-such as giving departmental personnel easier access to information than they have today-create potential logistical complexities and increase the risk of additional costs. In addition, an FSR would require the departments to consider broader issues surrounding the promotion of this Web site to job seekers. Because of the importance of FSRs for project planning and budgeting, the Legislature stated its intent in the 2005-06 Budget Act (Control Section 11.05) not to approve funding for information technology projects without an approved FSR.

Recommend Rejecting Proposal. Consistent with legislative policy concerning information technology projects, we recommend that DPA and SPB’s joint request for funding be rejected. Should the administration wish to resubmit a similar proposal in the future, it should submit it with an approved FSR and other information addressing the concerns raised above.

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