To ensure that it can comply with state law in the event that it must close parks or reduce park services in the future, the department should improve its methodology for developing individual park unit budgets and determining and tracking park-level costs. Specifically, the department should update its description of phase one to adequately explain how it will reconcile individual park costs for fiscal year 2010-11 to the department's total actual expenditures to operate the parks.
The Department uses actual past year expenditure data to develop the Park Unit Costing report. As stated in Phase one, Districts calculate and compile the costs to run each park unit. For 10-11 data, Districts determined these costs by considering a number of factors including the amount of time each employee spent at a particular park unit. Since then, the Department has required Districts, as expenditures occur, to assign the expenditures for direct costs (staffing, operating expenditures and encumbrances) to the appropriate park unit(s) through the Department's Fiscal Tracking System. This information was used to start the park unit costing report. All expenditures not attributed to a specific park unit were spread utilizing a percentage provided by Districts. The percentages were developed with a number of factors in mind, consistent with the prior method, including staff time spent at particular park units. The total expenditures at each District and Department-wide were reconciled both prior to the expenditures being distributed based on the percentages and after to ensure the totals remained correct.
See also 'Process for Calculating Park Unit Costs' - January 2014.
Process for Calculating Park Unit Costs
The Department tracked expenditures at the Park Unit Level in fiscal year 2013-14. The Budget Office will be reconciling this information against budgetary and accounting documents provided to the Department of Finance (DOF) for preparation of the Governor's January 10 Budget.
Effective September 2013, state law was amended removing the requirement for the department to determine the amount necessary to fully operate its 278 parks at the 2010 level. However, the department has not provided its revised methodology with an updated description of Phase 1 that explains how it will reconcile individual park costs for future years to the department's total actual expenditures to operate the parks during those years. Moreover, the department has not provided documentation to substantiate its claim of fully implemented.
In January 2014, the Department released its Park Unit Costing Report. The increased level of fiscal information provided in this report and in the future will allow for a greater understanding regarding how departmental funding is allocated amongst the various State parks in support of Californias State Park System.
In developing this report, the costs for the park system fall into two main categories of expenditures:
Direct Expenditures - These are the direct expenditures for providing services in a park unit, from the district level down—identified as staffing and operating expenses in this report.
Indirect Overhead Expenditures - These include the cost of support services for the park unit and support provided by the Departments Headquarters operation—identified as distributed admin and core programs in this report.
The Departments Fiscal Tracking System, reports expenditures to the district level of the State Park System. The Department developed estimates for how those expenditures should be distributed among the various parks in the system. Included in the report is the Departments estimate of how the district expenditures are distributed among the parks for both FY 2010-11 and projected for FY 2013-14. The Departments examination of the State Park Systems budget focused on the support budget expenditures—not Capital Outlay or Local Assistance Expenditures—in order to capture those costs that best reflect the costs of operating individual parks within a park system. Going forward, the Department is tracking expenditures for the Park System at the Park Unit Level and will release expenditures at the Park Unit Level annually.
In 2013, the Public Resources Code 5007 was amended resulting in the deletion of the requirement to compare most recent cost estimates to the amounts determined necessary to fully operate our parks at the 2010 level when proposing park service reductions or closures.
We acknowledge the department's efforts to implement our recommendation, however, effective September 2013, state law was amended removing the requirement for the department to determine the amount necessary to fully operate its 278 parks at the 2010 level. However, the department has not provided its revised methodology to include with an updated description of Phase 1 that explains how it will reconcile individual park costs for future years to the department's total actual expenditures to operate the parks during those years.
In phase one of the Park Unit Budget intiative expenditures for the 2010/11 fiscal year were broken down within each District to the Park Unit level. These expenditures were reported to Headquarters in October 2013. This data will be included in a report being prepared for the Legislature, due in December 2013. As part of the data compilation, the task force worked with the Department Budget Office to combine Park Unit expenditures with the overall expenditures for the Department and to reconcile these to the Department Budget for FY 2010/11.
Although the department states that a task force worked to combine park unit expenditures with the overall expenditures of the department and reconcile these to the department budget for fiscal year 2010-11, the department did not provide a copy of the reconciliation performed by its task force. Additionally, the department's response does not address whether it updated its description of phase one to adequately explain how its process for reconciling individual park costs for fiscal year 2010-11 to the department's total actual expenditures to operate the parks.
Agency responses received are posted verbatim.