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Staff, vehicle fleet, computer system among areas cited

August 30, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

There are a number of areas in which the Imperial Irrigation District can reduce costs through more efficient operations, according to an efficiency study still being conducted.

The areas include governance, information technology, vehicle fleet, cost allocation, staffing, water order fulfillment, customer service projects and customer service and billing.

On the issue of staffing levels, the report — conducted by Florida-based S&W Consultants — states:

· IID has higher staffing levels compared to benchmarks.

· the district has more supervisors per employee than the industry norm. The industry norm is six to seven employees per supervisor. IID's general services department reportedly has five employees per supervisor, the power department, 4.25, and water, 4.8.

· the benefits of shifting the workforce to the 9/80 work schedule have not been achieved, especially in light of reduced customer service and reduced customer satisfaction. In addition, the report says two reasons for shift in the work schedule was to reduce overtime and sick leave. While overtime has been reduced — after a peak in 1999 — sick leave has more than doubled, to a cost of about $2.5 million in 2000, compared to a cost of about $1 million in 1996. The district adopted the 9/80 work schedule in 1997.

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· separate, but similar, functions being performed by water and power could be combined.

· zanjeros should be put to work doing other tasks during slow months when they typically only work about 58 percent of the time.

· the low turnover at the district precludes the opportunity to bring in new talent and fresh ideas.

· there are a number of employees not qualified to do the job they are performing.

· IID has a bias toward hiring permanent staff instead of acquiring highly skilled resources for specific jobs.

· outsourcing and the use of contractors will provide IID with opportunities to improve its efficiency.

· there appear to be several organizations performing similar tasks.

On the issue of the district's vehicle fleet, the report states:

· compared to other utilities, IID has a higher percentage of transportation vehicles to total vehicles. "Furthermore, it is estimated that approximately 10 percent of these vehicles are allocated to executive-level staff and serve little to no operational function."

· IID has significantly higher operations and maintenance budgets per vehicle than peer group utilities. The study estimates IID spends $8 million yearly on vehicle operations and maintenance, while San Diego Gas & Electric spends $4 million; Sacramento Municipal Utility District, $5.3 million; Southern California Edison, $5.6 million; Nevada Power Co., $7 million and Seattle City Light, $5.5 million.

· when comparing vehicle-to-staff levels, IID has more mechanical employees than most peer group utilities.

· IID has a nearly one-to-one ratio of total employees to total vehicles, the highest ratio in the peer group. IID has 1.2 employees per vehicle; SDG&E, 2.3; SMUD, 2.7; SCE, eight; NPC, 2.5 and SCL, 1.9.

· IID has far fewer power customers per power transportation vehicle relative to other utilities. IID has 297 customers per vehicle; SDG&E, 1,143; SMUD, 1,149; SCE, 4,667; NPC, 1,080 and SCL, 996.

The report says that with a 10 percent reduction in the number of transportation vehicles, IID could save $1 million yearly; with a 50 percent reduction, a potential savings of $5.2 million yearly.

Additionally, the report shows the IID's costs for basic maintenance is almost double the cost at local automobile dealers and 10 percent more expensive to perform comprehensive maintenance.

Regarding more efficient use of the district's new computer system, the report states:

· the district is only using 53 percent of SAP's functionality.

· limited training has resulted in frustrated users reluctant to use the system as it was designed. "Users do not know what they do not know."

· there are several priority areas in which IID will gain cost savings through a more efficient use of SAP, including customer service, projects such as construction project cost overruns, material management and a reduction in manual work-arounds.

The 247-page phase two report includes many other recommendations.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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