|Although financial management data is provided through the Auditor-Controller’s Office on a regular basis, the GSA Director does not regularly receive activity or performance data for any of the major functions for which he is responsible. While some statistical reports are produced for the State, these are generally not designed for monitoring operations. In addition, because many of these reports are only produced on an annual basis, the Director does not have sufficient information to evaluate operations during the year.|
Critical to the efficient and effective operations of a department is a management information system which provides data necessary to monitor and assess financial condition, workload activity and performance measures which are central to accomplishing the organization’s mission. Such a system communicates to staff “what we do, who our customers are, what our customers want, and how we are performing.” The most important elements of a management information system include:
As part of this study, we requested information to assess whether GSA has effectively developed and implemented a sound management information system. In interviews with the Director, he indicated that “there are no formal reports on activities” and that staff “take direct responsibility” and report information as necessary. Based on subsequent interviews with staff, and a review of available documentation, we found that the Department’s management information system is weak, and that in many areas, basic operational data is not readily available.
As part of the County family of departments, the General Services Agency receives its approved budget and expenditure reports through the Auditor-Controller. The budgeted expenditure information is compiled by line-item by GSA department. No detailed budget information is provided at the department level for revenues, although high level operating income is provided for the Enterprise Fund and Internal Service Fund Departments. This information is sufficient for communicating basic budget expectations to the department.
Actual expenditure information is also provided by the Auditor-Controller through the County’s financial management system. This information is compiled by the Auditor-Controller on the basis of actual expenditures by object and subaccount (e.g., Salaries and Employee Benefits, segregated by Salaries and Wages, Retirement, Insurance, etc.). Expenditure categories are defined in an “Accounting Standards And Procedures” document, provided to us by the Auditor-Controller during the course of this study.
Based on interviews with the Director, these resources are used on an ongoing basis to compare the Department’s actual expenditures with budgeted expenditures. Although we did not conduct a detailed assessment of the analytical methods used by the Director or his accounting staff in this regard, a general review of various financial records indicates that sufficient information exists for appropriate financial monitoring during the year.
In addition to the basic budget monitoring that is conducted by the Director, other financial data is regularly compiled and reported monthly for the Motor Pool and fuel charges by vehicle and department, and for GSA Support Services activities (printing services, mail and messenger services, construction services, etc.). As with the charges for the Motor Pool, charges for GSA Support Services are compiled and reported monthly. This information is used primarily to bill departments, and to track actual charges for Internal Service Funds against anticipated charges and the allocation of indirect costs for GSA administration throughout the year. Our review indicates that these documents are sufficient for this purpose.
Customer Demand And Workload Activity Data
The Department does not routinely compile data on customer demand or other workload, except informally, or when required by the State. For example, the Library produces an annual report which provides the State with data on employees, costs, funding sources, and book and periodical inventories, as well as circulation and program attendance data. However, this information is not transmitted to management on a monthly or otherwise routine basis. Similar information is reported to the State on gasoline flowage, but this is general and is not reported in a useful form to management.
In other GSA departments, data is kept informally through the year, although there is no State or other requirement. However, it is not routinely reported to management. For example, according to the Museum Coordinator, she compiles data on attendance by category (e.g., individual, group, etc.), but this information is just kept “in-house.” She does not routinely provide attendance information to the Director, nor has she received a directive to do so. In another example, the Chief of Building Maintenance advised us that he tracks all service requests from County departments, and keeps a record on his personal computer. However, he does not routinely provide such data to management. Instead, he “summarizes” the data for management “upon request.”
Without information on customer and workload demands, it is difficult for management to identify occurrences which may impact operations, or to proactively respond to situations which require extraordinary levels of effort to appropriately meet request for service demands.
Without the basic elements of information discussed previously, management cannot establish effective goals and objectives or measure performance toward program success. This appears to be a general weakness within GSA, and possibly throughout the County generally. During this study, we were not made aware of any County-wide program which requires managers to establish individual or departmental goals, and design plans to meet those goals. This is a basic element in any system which is designed to achieve continuous process improvement objectives. We are aware of many large- to medium-size counties which have implemented programs to strengthen performance measurement systems during the past ten years.
In a smaller County like Amador, programs for measuring performance can be more modest. In GSA, we believe a regular management report should be developed which provides key operations data and performance information to management and to the Board of Supervisors. Initially, such data should provide merely a baseline for tracking activity and performance. Over time, the Department should refine these to ensure that only the most critical elements are being reported. The table on the following page provides some examples of reporting elements the Department may wish to initially consider. Not all GSA departments are included in this table of examples.
Customer Satisfaction Measures
During this study, we were advised that the Department has periodically conducted Building Maintenance satisfaction surveys of County departments. However, these surveys have not been performed for several years, nor are there any immediate plans to perform customer surveys in the near future.
Such surveys can be powerful tools for measuring customer satisfaction with custodial and minor repair services in public jurisdictions. Often, customer departments may feel that they are unable to communicate their concerns about service levels and quality, or that when concerns are expressed, it is unclear whether any lasting improvements will be made.
Accordingly, the Department should implement customer satisfaction surveys for General Services at regular intervals, not to exceed every two years This information should be integrated with the workload and performance measurement tool, discussed above, to design and support budget requests, to identify areas requiring service augmentation, and for developing strategies for reducing costs and providing more efficient and effective services.
Although financial management data is provided through the Auditor-Controller’s Office on a regular basis, the GSA Director does not regularly receive activity or performance data for any of the major functions for which he is responsible. While some statistical reports are produced for the State, these are generally not designed for monitoring operations. In addition, because many of these reports are only produced on an annual basis, the Director does not have sufficient information to evaluate operations during the year.
The Director of the General Services Agency should:
COSTS AND BENEFITS
There would be no cost to implement these recommendations.
The GSA Director and the Board of Supervisors would be provided with more complete and timely information on the operations of the Department. With this information, the Director would be better able to assess departmental performance and to design programs to better serve customers.