Types of Analysis

BCPs or Other Issues Involving a Proposed Augmentation

Have the department or group proposing the augmentation clarify what the problem is. All too frequently problem statements are either missing, too brief or too general to be sufficiently clear and quantifiable, discuss symptoms rather than real problems, or are stated in terms of the solution (e.g., “the problem is we don’t have the 14 additional staff we need”). The analyst’s role is to find out if there is a public need which is not being addressed, i.e., what is the problem outside of building? Things like crime, pollution, and poverty are possibilities; the lack of staff, microcomputers, and travel funds are not. Moreover, the problem should be quantified as much as possible so that a quantifiable solution can be arrived at. This should address:

  • the extent of the problem
  • how this varies from a “normal” or acceptable situation
  • how many individuals are experiencing the problem
  • where this problem is located geographically
  • need statements should answer the question “why?”

Consider Alternatives for Solving the Problem. Most BCPs provide two:  (1) do nothing and (2) accept our proposal. Do not be deterred by the apparent lack of creativity on the part of some. There is more than one way to solve a problem, especially in an era of constantly changing technology. You might consider:

  • automation
  • program restructuring
  • restructuring systems and procedures
  • consolidation of functions

The Key Element in a BCP (or other Proposal) is Data to justify the resource level being proposed. Most proposals request specific amounts of staff and funds. These requests should be supported by equally specific calculations. To the extent that specificity is lacking, the analyst may be required to fill in the gaps in order to develop a recommendation. Usually, this kind of analysis starts with a zero-augmentation assumption and builds in components as they are specifically justified on an individual basis. For example, a particular solution may involve several different types of staff in field offices, headquarters management, and in the Administration Division, each developed on a different basis. In summary, in this type of situation we start with zero and add in resources as they are justified by specific calculations. As a general rule, if you cannot understand were the number comes from, do not add it in.

If they lowballed the bill analysis, they should live with it in the BCP.

Workload Issues

In past years, departments were usually funded for agreed to workload increases. More often than not, in recent years with severe budget restraints and no or insufficient funds available to meet mandatory requirements, workload often is not funded. Departments are required to redirect resources or find other alternatives. Despite that, workload analysis is an important Finance activity.

The key variables in workload issues are:

  • the volume of work to be accomplished, generally referred to as workload
  • the current staffing level
  • the workload completed with current staff

The ratio of workload being currently completed to current staff will usually provide a good estimate of the productivity rate. The ratio of the workload to be accomplished to the productivity rate is the number of staff required to complete that workload. Example—CAL/OSHA elevator inspectors will inspect about 27,500 elevators this year for safety requirements. Next year the number will increase to 28,500. Currently there are 40 inspectors. How many are needed for next year?

Answer 27,500 = 687.5 (Number of elevators)
40 (1 inspector can inspect)
28,500 = 41.5 (Number of inspectors)
687.5 (needed)

Therefore, 1.5 additional inspectors would be justified on a workload basis. Further, there is one clerical staff for every 4 inspectors in the program, so the addition of 1.5 inspectors would justify 1.5 X .25 or 0.4 of a clerical position, for a total of 1.9 PYs. Sometimes it is necessary to pursue additional justification for the volume of workload projected, depending on historical patterns. Also there may be ways to increase current productivity rates without adding staff by changing procedures or by automating certain functions. The workload calculations should be performed only after the analyst is satisfied with the data that goes into those calculations. Never accept a duty statement as workload justification. Anyone can fill up 40 hours per week with activities. This has no relationship to the external workload, how it is changing, and what staffing implications it has. Workload may fluctuate throughout the year. Our policy is usually not to staff a unit for peak workload demands (with the possible exception of temporary help funds where warranted, such as the Franchise Tax Board), but rather to support staffing to process the average workload level. Workload standards are useful if they have been validated and we have agreed to them. Departments should be encouraged to develop them. Even if this hasn’t been done prior to writing the BCP, it may be possible to use time sheet and other activity data to put together some useful standards. But be careful, before proceeding, apply the workload standards to last year’s work. Does the analysis show it would require 20 PYs to do the work that you know they did with 10 PYs? Be careful of backlog statistics. There is a difference between and backlog and a working inventory. A backlog measurement should exclude:
  • workload which is currently being processed
  • workload which can be processed in a reasonable or statutorily required length of time
  • workload which has been set aside because it is incomplete, waiting for additional information, orotherwise cannot be processed.
  • National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO)
For other types of analyses, see the NASBO training Series Program, Module 6: Analytical Methods for Budget Analysts.