The State Worker

Audit: California government not planning for retirements

This chart compares the average age of California state employees in 1988, 2008 and 2015. The percentage of workers 50 and older has increased sharply.
This chart compares the average age of California state employees in 1988, 2008 and 2015. The percentage of workers 50 and older has increased sharply. California State Auditor and State Personnel Board

California state government continues to struggle with plans for replenishing its aging workforce, according to a new report released Monday, chiefly because departments talk a good game but largely fail to follow through.

Nearly 41 percent of state employees are age 50 or older, State Auditor Elaine Howle noted in her assessment, yet the Department of Human Resources has been slow to assess what departments are doing to plan for the next generation of employees. And three departments first reviewed in 2009 – the Office of Emergency Services, Caltrans and the Department of Social Services – have made some progress but need to do much more.

“The lost of institutional knowledge is a real concern for the state,” Howle wrote in a summary of the 26-page review, “and particularly for the three departments we reviewed.”

Along with better succession planning, which looks at the state’s needs for tomorrow, Howle said that the state needs to strengthen workforce planning, which maximizes today’s employees for the job at hand.

Among the report’s key findings:

▪ CalHR hasn’t been consistent with its workforce planning and succession recommendations to departments and hasn’t followed up to see how departments are following the guidance that it has provided.

▪ CalHR started collecting plans from departments two years ago, but so far has contacted 25 of 88 departments and received plans from just eight.

▪ In the years since the 2009 audit, Emergency Services and Caltrans have made progress in some units but still do not have comprehensive workforce plans.

▪ Neither Social Services nor Caltrans track the progress of what plans they have in place, “and all three departments could do more to access the effect of such programs.”

CalHR Director Richard Gillihan said in a written response to the audit that his department initiated “a relatively new program” in July 2013 that is focused on workforce planning and “has worked diligently” to ramp up improved workforce planning tools and to take feedback.

All 88 departments have been contacted, he wrote, and CalHR “is in the process of collecting all department workforce plans by June 2015.”

Other departments named in the report concurred with its conclusions and said they are working on improving workforce and succession plans.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

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