Report 2012-118 Recommendations and Responses in 2014-041

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

Department Number of Years Reported As Not Fully Implemented Total Recommendations to Department Not Implemented After One Year Not Implemented as of 2013-041 Response Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
Public Utilities Commission 1 8 2 n/a 1

Recommendation To: Public Utilities Commission

The commission should determine the cause of its lack of compliance with state law requiring it to issue award decisions within 75 days of the date an intervenor submits a compensation claim, and it should determine what actions to take to rectify the problem. The commission should ensure that it has sufficient information, such as detailed tracking information regarding claims, to identify where in the process delays are occurring. If the commission determines that the current 75-day statutory period is unreasonable, it should seek a change in state law.

Response

The Commission (CPUC) believes that it has fully implemented this recommendation. The CPUC has determined the cause of its lack of compliance with state law requiring it to issue award decisions within 75 days of the date a compensation claim is submitted (See 60-day status report), and determined the actions to take to rectify the problem (See 60-day, 6-month and one-year reports). The CPUC has implemented detailed tracking of claims and can identify where in the process delays are occurring (See 6-month status report). Data shows that it currently takes about 40 hours to process a claim. Therefore, once the backlog of claims is cleared, most claims should be easily resolved within 75 days. The modified process implemented in July 2014 is further reducing the time for processing a claim. From July through September 2014, the CPUC prepared 27% more draft decisions (28 vs. 22) and resolved 14% more claims (25 vs. 22) than for the same period in 2013. The CPUC has increased staff support to more quickly reduce/eliminate the current backlog. The CPUC Legal Division analyzed the OIA proposal to delegate authority to the Executive Director and advised that such authority cannot be delegated without specific statutory authority. Because the CPUC will be able to resolve most claims within 75 days once the backlog of claims is cleared, the CPUC will not pursue legislation on this matter at this time. Therefore, the CPUC requests that the State Auditor find that the CPUC has fully implemented this recommendation.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented
  • Estimated Completion Date: July 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Public Utilities Commission

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

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.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented
  • Estimated Completion Date: July 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2014-041