Report 2012-118 Recommendation 5 Responses

Report 2012-118: California Public Utilities Commission: Despite Administrative Weaknesses, It Has Generally Awarded Compensation to Intervenors in Accordance With State Law (Release Date: July 2013)

Recommendation #5 To: Public Utilities Commission

To comply fully with state law, the commission should conduct a comprehensive market rate study and update it periodically.

Agency Response*

ALJ Division is working with the Commission's Contracts unit on a contract for a consultant to conduct a market rate study in 2018. The scope of work for the study has been drafted and the contract is being developed.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: 6/30/2018
  • Response Date: November 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Agency Response*

On March 26, 2016 the Commission held a workshop with intervenors. The workshop directly addressed the Commission's need to undertake a comprehensive market study. A copy of the workshop agenda has been submitted to aaronf@auditor.ca.gov. In the upcoming year, the Commission will issue, so long as funds are made available for this purpose, a request for proposal (RFP) in order to conduct the comprehensive market rate study and subsequent updates. Once completed, the Commission will be in full compliance with state law, and Section 1806 of the Public Utilities Code, on this matter. The CPUC will continue to evaluate the availability of funds and its budget constraints along with other statutory obligations as it seeks to implement this recommendation.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: 12/30/2017
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

The CPUC cannot fully implement the State Auditor's recommendation to conduct a periodically updated comprehensive market rate study until such time that funds are available for this purpose. The CPUC will continue to evaluate the availability of funds and its budget constraints along with other statutory obligations as it seeks to implement this recommendation.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: not available
  • Response Date: September 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Prior to 2005, the Commission (CPUC) considered the market rates paid to persons of comparable training and experience who offer similar services (as required by PU Code section 1806) on a case-by-case basis by comparing attorneys'/experts' skill, expertise, and years of experience to those awarded compensation in other proceedings. Due to weaknesses of the case-by-case approach, in 2005, the CPUC set hourly rate ranges based on data provided by the major utilities but this effort had significant limitations. Since 2005, the CPUC has periodically updated these hourly rate ranges by means of a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) because of the cost and difficulty of performing more extensive updates to hourly rate ranges. The December 2013 workshop participants considered alternatives but were not able to develop a complete proposal for periodically updating hourly rates. Workshop participants continue to recommend a more thorough market study but agreed to biennial COLA adjustments during the immediate future. The Commission previously considered proposals to use a professional recruitment consultant to perform a compensation study. However, the proposals have not been implemented due to lack of funding. The CPUC does not have funds to undertake a thorough market study at this time and must continue using COLA adjustments to update hourly rate ranges. The CPUC cannot fully implement the State Auditor's recommendation to conduct a periodically updated comprehensive market rate study until such time that funds are authorized for this purpose.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: July 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Although the commission has taken some preliminary steps to conduct a market rate study, it has yet to adopt the final proposal for obtaining and maintaining rates paid to persons of comparable training and experience who offer similar services and has not yet fully complied with state law in this matter.

  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Agency Response*

On December 2, 2013, the Commission held a workshop, among other things, to consider ways to conduct and periodically update market rates for intervenors. The workshop initiated an informative dialogue with intervenors and resulted in draft proposals for addressing market rates. On February 26, 2014, the Commission issued a Draft Workshop Proposal and intervenors filed comments on the draft proposal. A final proposal is anticipated in the Fall of 2014. The final proposal is expected to establish a method for obtaining and maintaining rates paid to persons of comparable training and experience who offer similar services, consistent with the requirements of Section 1806. These steps will bring the Commission into full compliance with state law on this matter.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: December 2013
  • Response Date: July 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Because the commission has yet to adopt the final proposal for obtaining and maintaining rates paid to persons of comparable training and experience who offer similar services, the commission has yet to fully comply with state law in this matter.

  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Agency Response*

On December 2, 2013, the Commission held a workshop to consider ways to conduct a comprehensive market rate study and update it periodically. The goals of the workshop were: (1) review the State Auditors recommendations; (2) thoroughly explain an ALJs review process of an intervenor compensation claim; and (3) consider proposals for updating hourly rate ranges, conducting benchmark studies and performing cost of living adjustments. Nineteen intervenors participated in the workshop in person and telephonically.

The Commissions next steps are to issue a draft proposal (developed through input during the workshop) in February 2014 proposing a process for performing an annual review of rate ranges. Intervenors will have an opportunity to comment on the draft proposal. Following comments, the ALJ Division will issue a draft resolution for Commission approval of the final annual rate review process.

A copy of the workshop agenda has been submitted to aaronf@auditor.ca.gov.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: July 2014
  • Response Date: January 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response*

The ALJ Division has designated an ALJ to conduct an informal workshop with intervenors and planning is currently underway. We expect the workshop to take place in November 2013. The workshop, among other things, will continue the efforts from the November 2012 workshop to reach consensus on how to proceed with developing updated attorney/expert market rates.

Once a concensus among intervenors is reached, the ALJ Division will prepare a formal decision addressing hourly rates and any other matters which would be issued by April 2014.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: April 2014
  • Response Date: September 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


All Recommendations in 2012-118

†Response Type refers to the interval in which the auditee is providing the State Auditor with their status in implementing recommendations made in an audit report. Auditees must submit a response regarding their progress in implementing recommendations from our reports at three intervals from the release of the report: 60 days, six months, and one year or subsequent to one year.

*Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.


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