Analysis of the 2007-08 Budget Bill: Health and Social Services
The Community Care Licensing (CCL) Division of the Department of Social Services (DSS) develops and enforces regulations designed to protect the health and safety of individuals in 24-hour residential care facilities and day care. The CCL oversees the licensing of about 86,000 facilities, including child care centers, family child care homes, foster family and group homes; adult residential facilities; and residential facilities for the elderly. Counties who have opted to perform their own licensing operations monitor approximately 11,000 of these facilities.
The Governor’s budget proposes total expenditures of $119.9 million ($38.2 million General Fund) for CCL in 2007-08. This is an increase of 18 percent, or slightly less than $6 million in General Fund from the current year. Most of the increase is due to the addition of staff for more facility inspections. This is pursuant to a requirement in current law that triggers increased random inspections if violations increase by more than 10 percent from the prior year.
The Governor’s budget proposes $1.7 million ($1.5 General Fund) in 2007-08 and $1.4 million ($1.2 million General Fund) in 2008-09 for an automation project that is part of an overall Information Technology Strategic Plan for the Community Care Licensing (CCL). We find that the project does not meet the schedule set out in the strategic plan and as a result, will not address the Legislature’s concerns. We recommend that CCL report at budget hearings on the costs and time that would be required to adhere to the schedule in the strategic plan.
Legislative Interest. The Legislature has expressed interest in two areas with regard to CCL. These are (1) ensuring that CCL is effectively monitoring and enforcing facility safety and (2) providing facility compliance information on the Internet. In 2006-07, CCL could not provide key information related to enforcement activities with noncompliant facilities. As a result, in the Supplemental Report of the 2006 Budget Act, the Legislature required that the department provide a report on the costs to track this information in the future. In the same year, the Legislature added $366,000 to the budget in order to place facility inspection reports on the Internet. These funds were subsequently vetoed by the Governor.
CCL Information Technology Strategic Plan. The CCL has provided to the Legislature an Information Technology Strategic Plan that describes upgrades to automation that will improve its operations and enable it to address the concerns of the Legislature mentioned above. The plan estimates that this improvement will take a total of four years, and will be completed in two phases. Phase One is scheduled to be complete in 2008-09.
According to the strategic plan, CCL lacks sufficient automation infrastructure to accurately report on its monitoring activities. The plan cites the May 2006 Bureau of State Audits report, which indicates that because of flawed collection and tracking of licensing data, the information reported to the Legislature regarding visits and violations in the past may have been unreliable. The first two years of the plan (Phase One) would correct these problems, allowing CCL to accurately track data, access necessary management reports, and manage the activities of licensing field analysts. Phase One of the plan also includes developing the ability to display facility inspection reports and file facility complaints on the Internet. Phase Two adds functions such as online fee payment and access to licensing information for licensees.
Automation Project. The governor’s budget proposes $1.7 million ($1.4 million General Fund) in 2007-08 and $1.4 million ($1.2 million General Fund) in 2008-09 for the Licensing Automation Reform Project. The proposal includes ten positions and approximately $800,000 in consulting contracts to upgrade CCL’s existing automated systems. According to CCL, the automation project is the first phase of the strategic plan.
Automation Project Misses Key Legislative Goal. The goal of the strategic plan is to improve the management and efficiency of CCL. If implemented, some of the key features outlined in the plan would address the concerns of the Legislature. Specifically, the automation proposal indicates that by October of 2008, CCL will be able to track the effectiveness of monitoring and enforcement. However, the proposed automation project does not include providing access to any licensing information via the Internet, which is also a key interest of the Legislature. The department contends that because it must first make fundamental improvements to the basic tracking and management of licensing operations, providing information on the Internet cannot be done within current fiscal constraints. As such, this automation project will not meet the schedule outlined in the strategic plan, and will not address a key legislative goal.
Because the automation project does not completely address the Legislature’s goal of providing public information regarding licensing compliance, we recommend that DSS report at budget hearings on the estimated time and cost to complete all of the features outlined in Phase One in the strategic plan, including making licensing information available on the Internet.
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2007-08 Budget Analysis