Report 98115.1 Summary - August 1999

California Science Center:

It Does Not Ensure Fair and Equitable Treatment of Employees, Thus Exposing the State to Risk

RESULTS IN BRIEF

The California Science Center (science center), a downtown Los Angeles state-of-the art museum focusing on science, industry, and economics, has poorly managed its personnel responsibilities, creating a work place in which employees are not assured fair and equitable treatment. As a result of serious problems with its examination and hiring processes, inconsistent resolution of complaints and grievances, a deficient training program, and poor record keeping, the science center exposes the State to future litigation. For the science center to successfully accomplish its mission, it relies on the work of many employees. In fact, more than 140 civil service employees, ranging from museum curators to security officers, carry out its day-to-day functions. Therefore, it is imperative for the science center's executive management team to foster an attitude of fairness and equality for all employees by ensuring its staff adhere to sound personnel practices.

The science center has failed to follow many personnel practices established by the State to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of civil service employees. These personnel practices include rules for testing and selecting candidates, classifying and compensating employees, notifying employees of their rights, and requirements for training and record keeping. Our review reveals serious problems with many of these activities. For example, the science center does not always comply with rules for appointing civil service employees. Consequently, in some instances the science center may not have hired the most qualified individuals, and thus will be unable to defend any of these decisions should they be challenged. We noted instances when the science center failed to follow regulations and procedures for properly classifying and compensating employees. Had we not brought these errors to its attention, several employees may not have received appropriate retirement benefits. We also found that the science center significantly exceeded its budgets for temporary help and overtime.

In addition, employees are not consistently informed of their rights and responsibilities, either through a manual, bargaining unit contract, or an orientation class when they are hired. The science center's documentation of complaints and grievances and the related resolutions was severely limited, making it unclear whether complaints were properly addressed and resolved. Finally, individuals responsible for considering proposed disciplinary actions have not been properly trained. Therefore, the science center cannot be certain that employee rights are protected.

In addition to not informing employees of their rights, the science center has an inadequate training program. Despite regulations, the science center does not have an overall training plan or program designed to promote a capable, efficient, and service-oriented work force, nor does it maintain central training records to demonstrate which employees have received training. It further appears that higher-level employees receive more training opportunities than those at a lower level. As a result, some employees are better informed of important policies, which gives the appearance that the science center treats its staff unfairly or inequitably.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all employees, the science center needs to adhere to sound personnel practices. Specifically, the science center should:

  • Comply with the State's testing and hiring procedures and provide necessary training to staff in its personnel office.

  • Account for the number of hours its employees work so that it can enroll them in the appropriate retirement system and limit their hours to the maximum allowed by state law.

  • Continue the practice it began recently of informing all staff of discrimination and sexual harassment policies and procedures, as well as provide staff with copies of their bargaining unit contracts. In addition, train Skelly officers, or those individuals who consider and make recommendations regarding any disciplinary actions proposed against civil service employees.

  • Track and maintain all employee complaints, as well as monitor their resolution.

  • Provide supervisors with complaint resolution procedures and training.

  • Establish a comprehensive training program that includes equal opportunities for all levels of staff, and then track the training given to employees.

  • Develop and distribute an employee manual.

  • Continue efforts to obtain additional permanent positions.
AGENCY COMMENTS

The California Science Center agrees with our recommendations and states that it has begun taking corrective actions.


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