THE CEO’S freshly released response to June’s Grand Jury report which was entitled “Who Runs Mendocino County” is out. The CEO's response is predictably non-responsive, simply a run down of how the Grand Jury is eithier mistaken or somehow didn’t realize how much wonderful reporting she’s already doing.
However, one item which we've often brought up had to do with monthly reports from the various department.
The Grand Jury found that: “The CEO Report does not include substantive department updates, e.g. new jail addition, Sheriff overtime, BOS directive status, departmental statistics and major road project status.”
Notice particularly: “departmental statistics.”
CEO Carmel Angelo replied:
"Disagree. The CEO Report does include substantive department updates. The CEO report is released on a monthly basis and includes updates from various departments, including the Cultural Services Agency, Animal Shelter, Human Resources, Health and Human Services Agency and others on an as needed basis. Reports include information on facility projects, the budget, cannabis, important community meetings, Measure B, roads, upcoming meetings, and vacant Board and Commission seats."
CONTINUING, “The CEO's report to the Supervisors is only one means of communicating information to the Board and general public. The Board Agenda contains standing items from departments such as Transportation and Planning and Building Services that include monthly reports on department activities. Certain county offices operating under elected department heads will also periodically report on activities directly to the Board or in coordination with the CEO. Board agendas also include updates and/or action items on substantive issues such as the new jail addition, mental health or homelessness. The Board agendas also include a standing item titled Supervisors’ Reports Regarding Board Special Assignments, Standing and Ad Hoc Committee Meetings, and Other Items of General Interest. Finally, reports and updates on substantive issues are included in the annual Budget Hearings and in quarterly budget reports to the Board of Supervisors.”
THE CEO’S RESPONSE completely misses the point, especially the “departmental statistics” point. The key word in the Grand Jury finding was “substantive” which the CEO intentionally misinterprets as “what we’re doing already.”
The CEO claims that her monthly report does “include substantive department updates.” Hardly. It’s laughably deficient in ordinary departmental management reports and the CEO’s response demonstrates that she does not know what management reports are. A substantive department update would include budget status (budget vs. actual), staffing status (vacancies, lost time, recruiting, backlog), current project status, and any unresolved issues from prior Supervisor directives. and if they were REALLY interested in “substantive” reports, they’d include the primary Cost Drivers for each department tracked monthly and tailored to each department.
AS IT IS, the CEO report is more a collection of press releases and random info bits which do not permit the Board or the public — not to mention the CEO herself — to track or stay on top of departmental activities. Two departments — Planning and Building and Transporttion — do submit monthly reports but they only address a meaningless snapshot of that month’s activities with no trend info, and do not include staffing or budget status.
IF MENDO can’t even bring itself to generate useful budget and staff reports for each department then the Board, the CEO and the Public — and the Grand Jury — will stay in the dark on whether services are effectively delivered and on budget, and problems will continue to be addressed only on an ad hoc or emergency basis when they become critical.
TAKE THE GLARING EXAMPLE of vacancies in Social Services which periodically only merit one cryptic line in a long list of departmental vacancies:
According to that one line there are 404 (!) FUNDED positions in HHSA’s Social Services department, by far the largest single department listed but the 404 are not broken down by category of position or vacancy. These positions are mostly funded by state and federal grants, not the general fund. Of the 404 funded positions, there are 97 funded vacancies (about 20% vacancy) and 77 “in recruitment.” But if you look at this department’s staffing over time you see that the vacancy rate never goes down much even though there are 77 in recruitment, and 41 “new hires” (over what time? we aren’t told). There are also 47 unexplained “separations” (resignations? transfers to other departments?) Which means that there’s very high turnover and not all recruits make it onto the job. There’s also no mention of backlogs per employee or wait times for applicants. Nor of how much “funded” funding is going unspent.
IF HHSA did ordinary departmental reporting this large problem would get some attention and a monthly tracking chart would show what progress (if any) was being made in closing the gap: Why is there so much turnover? Could extra help be brought in? What overtime options are available? What categories of applicants/clients are being delayed or denied services or assistance? Etc.
THERE ARE DOZENS of things that the CEO and Board could do to actually manage their departments if they simply did “substantive” monthly reports – which is obviously what the Grand Jury was talking about.
BUT EVEN THOUGH the CEO has herself promised to provide monthly departmental budget reports in the past, she continues to insist that business as usual is all anybody needs.
INSTEAD we get monthly reports on such things as the Animal Shelter, what out of county meetings are upcoming, when the next board meeting is, what the latest display at the County Museum is, how great the employees are, how much “leadership training” they attend, and when the next meeting to tinker with the Cannabis rules will be held. The CEO’s grab bag of a “report” is not what the Grand Jury meant by "substantive."