The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 2, 2010
LAO: Caltrans overstaffed

From Kevin Yamamura of The Bee Capitol Bureau:

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said in a report today that Caltrans' Capital Outlay Support program is overstaffed and recommended that the state eliminate 1,500 full-time positions if the department cannot justify its staffing needs.

The Capital Outlay Support (COS) program is responsible for environmental review, design and construction oversight of highway projects, among other responsibilities. LAO found that costs were higher at Caltrans than for comparable projects in other states and local transportation agencies.

"We reviewed Caltrans' COS budget for recent years and found that the program's budget lacks sufficient workload justification," the LAO report states. " In order to gauge the reasonableness of the department's COS requests for staffing and funding, we evaluated the program using several different methods. The cumulative evidence from our review shows that the program is over-staffed and lacks strong management."

LAO further concluded that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's three monthly furloughs have had little apparent impact on the COS program's productivity.

"The department's inability to estimate the impact of the furlough program indicates overstaffing in the COS program," the report states. "Because the furlough program was not accounted for when the current-year staffing request was developed, the 15 percent reduction in resources should have a quantifiable reduction in outcomes of the program, such as achievement of project milestones. Given that there is little concrete evidence that the program's output has declined due to furloughs, the program appears to be overstaffed by as much as 15 percent."

LAO said eliminating 1,500 of 10,359 COS positions would save roughly $200 million in special state and federal funds that could be used for project construction, though it would have no direct impact on the state's general fund budget. The Analyst's Office recommends that the Legislature require Caltrans to justify its need for all of those positions. If the department can't do so, LAO said the Legislature should cut those jobs.

UPDATE (12:45 p.m.): Bruce Blanning of Professional Engineers in State Government called the LAO report "outrageously irresponsible." Blanning said that the LAO's recommendation would punish Caltrans workers for working hard despite Schwarzenegger's furloughs.

"What (LAO) has said is that Caltrans delivers its projects in the face of the furloughs, but because there has been an approximately 15 percent furlough and Caltrans is delivering projects on time, it must be overstaffed by 15 percent," he said. "That is ridiculous. Caltrans is getting its work done, getting projects out capturing federal funds, and he's criticizing them for it."

In response to LAO's criticism that Caltrans has not provided sufficient information to justify the department's staffing needs, Blanning said, "The main thing Caltrans is doing is getting projects out, building infrastructure and relieving traffic, rather than taking measurements of how many people it takes to perform functions."

About Comments

Reader comments on are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments
blog comments powered by Disqus

About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


Now on the State Worker column

    [an error occurred while processing this directive]

State Pay Database

This database allows you to search the salaries of California's 300,000-plus state workers and view up to four years of their pay history.

Latest Capitol Alert headlines

    404 - Not Found - The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, California

    404 Not Found

    Our apologies....

    We can't find the page you requested in this location.

    The story may have moved or expired.

    You may wish to:

  • » More on the Capitol Alert blog


May 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Monthly Archives