The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 6, 2009
Blog back: IT, offensive comments and, of course, furloughs

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Jan. 28 Taxpayers deserve streamlined IT

And, just when did the governor intend to pay serious attention to the recommendations of his own CPR (California Performance Review), almost completely ignored by him to-date? Did I last read it would save 'only' $16 billion?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2009-10 budget proposal reaches back to the CPR to suggest more than two dozen state boards, agencies, bureaus and commissions the administration wants to streamline, combine or eliminate.

Integrating and collapsing the State's IT organization is a monumental undertaking and it's a path where many have tread and few (none?) have succeeded. The State Controller boldly revealed the ineptitude of this IT organization when he admitted a mass-change of the State's workers salaries was nigh impossible with its archaic, proprietary mainframe-based payroll system. Talk about job security. Be it Quickbooks or a huge ERP solution, the notion of an unchangeable payroll system is utterly comical. Surely this is but one of numerous inefficiencies in this vast, splintered organization with dozens of IT directors and independent silos. In State government time, it will likely take a really driven CIO 10 years to truly consolidate the IT org.

A well-written analysis. For an example of the state's struggle to upgrade IT, check out Cap Bureau colleague Andrew McIntosh's recent story about unfinished projects at EDD.

Feb. 4 Governor's lawyer responds to Chiang's request for furlough clarification

The Bee really needs to review posts and new accounts before just granting access. This statement below only points to the absolute stupidity of the racist poster and how did the Bee let that screen name get past?! Wake up Bee!

The Bee, like many heavily-visited Web sites that allow comments, relies on users to flag offensive, inappropriate and off-topic posts. If you see an offensive comment or user name, use the "Report abuse" link found at the bottom right of the offending comment. Bee online staff will then review it.

Feb. 5 The State Worker: Furlough's unseen cost -- in morale

Furloughs are NOT about saving the state money. Furloughs are about "streamlining" I will repeat this again, once the state goes to a four day workweek, as many other states have, the state WILL operate on a four day workweek. I see this as a PERMANANT (sic) move.

It's clear that the governor is looking for some permanent cost savings to what the state spends on employees. That's the big reason that the administration has proposed changing how health benefit packages are negotiated. His call for erasing two paid holidays from the state calendar is another such move.

When it comes to furloughs, think through this scenario and see what you conclude: Say it's early May 2010. Furloughs are supposed to end in June. But the economy is even worse off than it was in 2009 when furloughs went into effect. State government remains strapped for cash. What will the governor say about restoring regular hours and pay to state workers?

I was in the "OK with it" group until I arrived at work today to find that my alternate work week schedule ('9/8/80' or every other Friday off) may be abandoned, so I will still work nine days (8 hours each)every fortnight and get paid less. I wouldn't feel right slowing my work pace, but I am feeling a bit sick right now.

Furloughs can have a progressively degrading impact on morale and productivity unless the furloughed workers believe that they have had some input and that the sacrifice is for a greater good. From what we can tell, neither mitigating circumstance exists here.

Here's how my not being in the office will have an impact. I work with consultants to assist with Caltrans proejcts. They requested a meeting for this Friday to clarify some issues. Meeting had to be rescheduled to next Tuesday. Not a big deal it seems but this 4 day delay will likely delay other decisions and actions, which will have a cumulative impact on the timing of the project down the road. Now consider all the other cumulative impacts throughout the state with other delays since employees won't be around and you can see how these small impacts will effect the State as a whole.

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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