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 develop specific time frames and deliverables for the completion of phases two and three of its plan. These time frames should include specific completion dates for each key component of the phases.
Phase 2 is complete. The Department created procedures in January of 2014 and provided them in the audit response in September of 2015. The Department puts on Business and Fiscal Training each spring and fall; the Budget office presents at one of these trainings each year to keep districts current on data collection. The Department also offers one-on-one training in the field as needed; this usually happens when new administrative staff is hired in the field or when a refresher is desired.
Phase 3 complete. In May 2016, the Department completed the data collection effort for SBB that documents all functions, across each district and park to enable analysis of the resource requirements for each task the Department needs to perform to achieve its Mission Service Levels. This process also revealed which tasks are currently performed and to what extent (Current Service Level). The Department has been able to analyze this information through high-level analytics, and for the first time can articulate through a qualitative analysis the service levels, it currently provides and how it allocates its resources. The Department has set service level standards in order to align the Department's mission and goals. By setting these standards, the Department is able to prioritize field services, connect resource allocation to service levels, regulate performance metrics, improve operation efficiency, encourage innovation, and enhance the visitor experience. In October of 2017, the Department completed Future Service Levels, which will provide budgets to the park unit level. The information is a dynamic dataset, which requires information be updated periodically.
The department did not provide us with specific time frames and deliverables for the completion of phases two and three of its plan as we had recommended. However, as the department indicates in its response, it has completed phase two and three of its process. Therefore, we consider this recommendation resolved.
The Service-Based Budgeting project remains in the development stage. Upon completion, this initiative will inform the Department's internal allotment processes and articulate which services can be performed at any given funding level at a park unit level. The initiative will include a component that dynamically tracks and updates service levels. Service-Based Budgeting is expected to be implemented by summer 2017.
The Department develops Park Unit Costing mirroring the Budget Cycle. These numbers are released to coincide with the Governor's Budget release on January 10. See also 'Process for Calculating Park Unit Costs' - January 2014. As referenced on page 25 and 26 of the audit report, phase 2 was undertaken and completed. The Department's Fiscal Tracking System was updated and now has the ability to report on Park Unit Costing. Also, as part of phase 2, the Department has offered numerous trainings that touch on Park Unit Costing and will continue to do so on an annual basis as part of the Business and Fiscal Training. Phase 3 centered around developing park unit budgets with regards to service levels. The Department is currently undergoing a transformative effort which is being carried out by the Transformation Team. As part of this effort, the Team is currently in the process of developing a service-based budget which will help inform financial decisions in the future. This effort is expected to be completed in 2016.
Process for Calculating Park Unit Costs
The department's statement that our report indicates that phase two was undertaken and completed is incorrect. On page 25 of our report we state that the department's description of the second phase of its methodology stated that several changes would need to occur in the way the department captured and retrieved data before it could track expenditures at the park level. We acknowledged in the report that in August 2013 the department demonstrated that it had resolved limitations with its fiscal tracking system. However, at the time we issued our report the description of the second phase of the department's methodology did not address when key training would occur. As part of its response to recommendation 5, the department provided documentation to substantiate that trainings have occurred. However, regarding phase three of its methodology, the department's response indicates that its efforts to develop service-based budgets are ongoing. Therefore, we assess this recommendation as partially implemented.
Annually on January 10, concurrent with the release of the Governor's Budget, the Department releases past-year actual expenditures at the Park Unit Level. The Budget Office also releases the initial "Budget Plan" for the next Budget Year. This is an initial plan at appropriation levels and could change during the budget cycle.
In its response the department is silent regarding the methodology it created to help develop individual park unit budgets and determine and track park-level costs. As we state on pages 25 and 26 of the report, the department had developed phases two and three of its plan but lacked time frames and deliverables for when and how it planned to complete those two phases. Without time frames and deliverables the department continues struggling to implement its methodology for developing individual park unit budgets and determining and tracking park-level costs.
The Budget Office is tracking expenditures by Park Unit for Fiscal Year 13/14. The Department is currently tracking expenditures at the Park Unit Level. When the fiscal year is complete, we will reconcile to budgetary and accounting documents to report the 2013/14 Park Unit Cost. We anticipate reporting annually with the release of the Governors Budget on January 10.
Every year on January 10, concurrent with the release of the Governors Budget, the Department plans to release past year actual expenditures at the Park Unit Level. We also plan to release the initial Budget Plan for the Budget Year. This is an initial plan as appropriation levels could change during the budget cycle.
The Department has developed specific time frames and deliverables for the completion of phases two and three of its plan as follows:
Phase two - Define a process to track expenditures by park unit for fiscal year 2013/14. The Department sent instruction to Park Districts that beginning on July 1, 2013 expenditures are to be tied to individual Park Units. The Districts have been entering expenditure to the Park Unit since July 1, 2013.
Phase Three - Develop individual park unit budgets to define what each park unit costs to operate. The 2013/14 budget allocations have been allocated to the park unit level. This data will be included in a report being prepared for the Legislature, due in December 2013.
Although the department reiterates the beginning date for phase two of its methodology for developing individual park unit budgets and determining and tracking park-level costs, it has not developed specific time frames and deliverables for the completion of phase two. We would have expected the department to update its methodology to include key components to accomplish phase two along with dates for each of the key components during fiscal year 2013-14 and beyond to ensure individual park unit expenditure data is captured consistently and meets the departments expectations. Moreover, the department lacks specific time frames and deliverables for the completion of phase three.
Agency responses received are posted verbatim.