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August 15, 2011

 

DiNapoli: Consolidations Can Help Rightsize Government

DCJS Audit Finds Lack of Clear Results

An audit of the effectiveness of consolidation efforts by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli showed that due to a lack of targets for success, results of the efforts could not be determined.  

“With more than 1,000 state agencies, commissions and public authorities, New York State needs to rightsize itself given continued fiscal challenges,” said DiNapoli. “Consolidation plans and shared services have the potential to cut state expenses and streamline state business, but these types of initiatives require a well-thought out plan and clearly articulated goals to truly be successful.
 
“The good news is that years ago DCJS considered and applied an innovative consolidation approach to provide administrative services for four other law enforcement agencies. The bad news is that by not establishing clear measures to determine efficiency and effectiveness of the initiative, there is no way for DCJS and the other agencies to know whether the consolidation benefited taxpayers and consumers.  As new opportunities for consolidations unfold, state leaders and policy makers must ensure that they are set up properly from the start.”

Over the last decade, some day-to-day administrative and support functions for the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, State Commission of Correction, Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, and the Office of Victim Services have been consolidated within DCJS. As the “hosting” department, DCJS provides finance, human resources, legal, and information technology services to the other agencies.

DiNapoli’s auditors found there were no rules or regulations, policies, or written agreements that specified anticipated service effectiveness or expected cost savings from the hosting initiative. Auditors also discovered DCJS does not track the cost of the services it provides to the hosted agencies, including the cost for the information technology consultants it hires that do work for the hosted agencies.

Overall, officials at the hosted agencies said that the services provided by DCJS allowed them to focus on the hosted agencies’ core missions. However, the same officials also acknowledged a need for written service level agreements with DCJS that clearly define the role of each agency.

To be successful, all efforts for consolidations and shared services should include formal plans, with clearly articulated goals and appropriate metrics and measures of success that are defined in advance and monitored as the plan is implemented.  Auditors recommended that DCJS:

  • Work with the hosted agencies to develop formal goals and action plans along with performance benchmarks and reports that formally measure the actual results for the hosting arrangements;
  • Implement written service level agreements between DCJS and the hosted agencies that clearly define the role of each agency in the hosting arrangement; and
  • Work with the hosted agency officials to identify opportunities to streamline agency operations.

    A copy of the audit can be seen at: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093011/10s16.pdf



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