SANTA ANA — Wednesday was not a great day on the third floor of the County Hall of Administration. The results of a performance audit of the County Human Resources Department (HRD) were released and they aren’t pretty to say the least. The 50 findings and recommendations illustrate a picture of a department lacking the resources and motivation to perform some of its most basic functions.
Here are just two of the findings highlighted in the Orange County Register coverage of the report:
- Human resources officials repeatedly violated county policy by permanently promoting employees into temporarily classified positions. The most egregious violator was the Public Administrator/Public Guardian, which permanently promoted employees into temporary roles 13 times in three years.
- A sampling of Human Resource’s automated filing system found at least 75 cases where the rules were broken while promoting employees. Twenty of those cases benefited CEO employees whose promotions were approved despite insufficient or absent justification. Another 16 were approved for Human Resources employees without the required justification. In one case a Human Resources employee was allowed to review and recommend his own pay raise.
When the Board of Supervisors requested the audit they directed that the audit include an examination of the following areas:
- The County’s current hybrid human resources system (i.e., centralization of some HR services; decentralization of others)
- The County’s Employee Relations and Labor Relations processes with employee associations/unions regarding the terms and conditions of employment
- Employee Discipline and Grievance administration
- Position Classification and Compensation system
- Recruitment system and processes
- Employee Benefits administration, including such areas as managing the provision of benefits, determining benefits to be offered, and selecting service providers
- Employee Training
Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino sent out an email to members stating; “The Performance Auditor reveals what we have known all along: That the Human Resources Department has routinely approved unjustified raises and promotionsx, sidestepping county and state rules to benefit managers, including those in the Human Resources Department and in the CEO’s office.”
“Also contained in the report is a list of many suggested take-aways from our contract as a way to achieve cost savings,” Berardino continues. “In the coming days look for county executives to focus on those suggestions in order to distract attention from the true facts of the report – that while you were making sacrifices, enduring layoffs and furloughs and other reductions in your benefits, the County’s executives and managers were secretly lining their own pockets.”
The cost savings that Performance Audit Director Steve Danley came up with read like the playlist from Supervisor Moorlach’s iPod.
The problem is that the performance audit of the Human Resources Department was not meant to be a policy statement on employee compensation and negotiated labor benefits. His recommendations are those one would find in a policy position paper, not an un-biased audit.
On the whole, Danley’s report highlights some disturbing issues affecting the County Human Resources Department. Whether Supervisor Moorlach’s policy ideas were inserted to make points with the Supervisor is not completely clear. What is clear is that the Board of Supervisors never asked for policy recommendations regarding negotiated salaries, benefits, and working conditions for employees in their instructions. They are therefore less the result of an objective audit and more a political statement in support of a particular objective including the destruction of collective bargaining in the County of Orange.
You can read the entire audit report here.