As Inigo said in the movie The Princess Bride (slightly altered), “You keep using that [report]. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
The Personnel Gains, Losses, Promotions, Appointments, Creations, Reclassifications and Abolishments Report (Gains & Losses Report) is issued each month and presented to the Board for approval. The Report is often lengthy and includes many names and positions (sometimes hundreds).
The intent of the Report is to give the Board the ability to determine who has left, who was hired, what division and department is affected, who has been promoted, what positions are being reclassified either in position title or Band/Grade (salary level), what positions are being created or abolished and the effective date of each change (I will refer to all of the previous as “position events”).
There is a tremendous amount of information here. But it is virtually impossible to follow. Why?
Each month the Board reviews up to hundreds of position events – but there is no context to determine what is really happening.
This is what I call “hiding in plain sight”. The administration is complying with the requirement to present all of the position events to the Board for approval – which they do on a routine basis. But there is so much data, that it is nearly impossible to understand how departments are changing over time with the addition of positions, abolishment of positions, reclassifications of position titles and reclassification of position salaries. Promotions appear to be straight forward, but again, there is no context with which to assess salary changes. When taken all together, there are literally thousands of changes during the year.
To further explain the term “hiding in plain sight”, here are a couple of examples where all the data is provided, but the presentation is such that the data and changes cannot be placed in context or fully understood.
- Over the course of FY12 and FY13, the Organizational Advancement Department (8253) had a large number of position events. By the way, I am not picking on Dr. Kirijan who oversees the Department and who I am told is doing a tremendous job and is a model of competence. I am simply using this Department as it is reasonably small (12-13 positions) and so can be more easily tracked. Over the course of FY12 and FY13, there were at least 28 position events reported in multiple periods. This included creation of positions, reclassification of position titles, new hires, losses and changes in salary bands. With all the position events, the profile of the Department changed – but, without specifically tracking the information, it would be impossible to determine this was the case.
- The detailed FY14 Preliminary Budget issued in May, ran for over 100 pages of detailed information for each department. The only summary was a one page summation of the total by Division. There were no summaries of expenditures by related departments or functions such as Elementary, Middle and High School Education; Vocational Education; Remedial Education; Fine Arts; Athletics; C&I Administrative Functions, etc. Nor was the information provided in a fashion that a reader could determine how current spending for related departments or related functions had changed from last year.
Why is this “hiding in plain sight”? The data is all there (well mostly) – but there is no context which allows readers to make an informed decision. To a great extent, this is how it works:
“Here is 100 pages of detailed budget numbers with no related function summaries – any questions?” No wonder the Budget Commission is frustrated!
“Here is another 100 position events on top of the 1,000 we provided before – any questions?” No wonder the Board has a difficult time tracking this.
So back to the Gains and Losses Report – there is a huge amount of data, but no context within which to evaluate it. The requirement to present critical data to the Board is met, but as I have suggested, the complete meaning of the information presented is lost in a sea of detail. Additionally, it is not clear to me that the changes shown in the Report ultimately flow to the Amended Budget. Further, it appears that in certain cases raises were granted that were not tied to a promotion (more information on this in the future).
Can the Gains and Losses Report be fixed in a way that provides the Board information and context (versus data) on what is happening? Actually it is quite simple to do so and I will provide a suggested “fix” in the next post.