Department Regularly Adjusts Personnel Specialist Staffing Levels in Budget. Twice each fiscal year the administration proposes changes to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) budget and staffing levels primarily based on estimated changes in the number of inmates and parolees it will be responsible for managing in the current and budget years. Some of these budget and staffing adjustments are not directly tied to changes in the estimated number of inmates or parolees. For example, the January and May Revision budget proposals typically include adjustments to the number of Personnel Specialists I (PSI) and Personnel Specialist Supervisors (PSS) employed by the department. The CDCR adjusts the number of these positions based on a ratio of one PSI for every 180 authorized CDCR positions and a ratio of one PSS to four PSI positions.
Governor’s Budget Increases Number of Personnel Positions in Budget Year. Based on CDCR’s current position authority, the administration is proposing in the current year to reduce the number of PSI positions by two and increase the number of PSS positions by two. Similarly, the administration is proposing to increase the number of PSI positions by 2.5 and increase the number of PSS positions by three in the budget year. These adjustments will result in $36,000 in increased costs in the current year and $420,000 in increased costs in the budget year. If the budget request is approved, CDCR would be authorized for a total of 349 PSI and 87 PSS positions in the budget year.
The department indicates that these adjustments are consistent with ratios authorized by the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA). We note that the request does not reflect changes in staffing levels from the 2011 realignment of adult offenders. We are informed that the Department of Finance intends to make adjustments to these staffing projections for the impacts of realignment in the near future.
CDCR May Be Over Staffing Human Resources Positions. While the department reports that it uses its existing staffing ratios because they are authorized by DPA, DPA reports to us that it does not have any ratio requirements related to the number of PSI positions and only recommends that each PSS positions oversee between three and five PSI staff. Moreover, we contacted other large state departments to compare their staffing ratios with those used by CDCR and found that CDCR uses significantly more PSI and PSS positions. For example, Caltrans reports that it has an average ratio of about one PSI per 300 of its other employees and that its PSS positions typically oversee five or more PSI staff. The Department of Motor Vehicles reported similar ratios.
The department also indicates their ratios are justified because of the complexity of its employees’ schedules. The department indicates this complexity increases its workload in various ways including the fact that calculations of overtime and shift pay often must be carried out manually. Finally, CDCR argues that a reduction in staffing could result in failure to pay wages on time which could result in fiscal penalties.
It is unclear that the challenges identified by CDCR are unique. Instead, it appears that the current ratios have been in place since the 1980s and not adjusted since. In addition, CDCR has recently implemented the Business Information System (BIS)—an information technology system designed to automate and streamline various fiscal and administrative functions, including budgeting, accounting, and human resources. The project cost the state $166 million to develop and deploy. In the BIS project documents, CDCR indicated the project would improve its human resources management.
We estimate that if the current staffing ratios were adjusted to reflect those of other large state departments, the CDCR budget could be reduced by $13.1 million and 180 positions in the budget year, creating substantial ongoing savings for the state.
Analyst’s Recommendations. We recommend that the Legislature reduce CDCR’s 2012-13 budget by $13.1 million in the budget year. This adjustment would provide CDCR with PSI positions on a 300 to 1 ratio and PSS positions on a 5 to 1 ratio, both of which are more consistent with other large state departments. We would note that this amount may need to be adjusted to account for any changes to the number of department staff made as part of the Governor’s May Revision proposal.