Never let it be said that LouisianaVoice isn’t willing to save the state a little money.
Remember that survey of Division of Administration (DOA) employees that revealed severe morale problems throughout state government? Well, in case you don’t, here’s the link to our story on that survey: http://louisianavoice.com/2014/10/02/employee-survey-of-doa-employees-reveals-simmering-morale-problem-no-one-more-popular-than-jindal-in-poll/
It turns out the state shelled out $25,000 to IBM for that survey that showed employees simply are not happy with the administration, scoring it abysmally low in trust, employee recognition, senior leadership values, communication from management, senior leadership vision, opportunity for advancement, employee involvement in decision making, and prospects for positive change.
Basically, the survey showed that state leadership languishes far below the national norm. In a word, it sucks.
But $25,000 to learn that? We could have told the administration that for…oh say, $5.
So who authorized the expenditure of scarce state funds for such a worthless piece of research when the conclusions were long evident to state employees and certainly should have been to the administration?
Well, it turns out that Deputy Commissioner of Administration Ruth Johnson signed off on the contract with IBM on June 24.
Johnson, you might recall, retired on June 21, 2012, from her $130,000 per year job as head of the Department of Children and Family services. She moved out of state but returned on May 27, 2013, as Director of Accountability and Research for DOA at $150,000 and less than four months later, on Sept. 30, 2013, was promoted to Assistant Commissioner at $170,000 per year. As if that were not enough, on Feb. 24 of this year, she was again promoted to the title of Director in the governor’s office at $180,000. Bottom line: in just 16 months, she retired and returned, netting in the process a pay increase of $50,000 per year—more than the average state employee makes in a year.
That will do wonders for employee morale.
LouisianaVoice made a public records request on Oct. 3 for the request for proposals (RFP), the contract and payment history for the survey contract with IBM.
On Oct. 6, DOA responded to our request:
- Your public records request, dated October 3, 2014, was received by the Division of Administration. We are conducting a search for records. Once the search is finished, the records will be reviewed for privileges and exemptions. We will contact you as soon as the review is completed.
Three weeks later, on Oct. 24, DOA finally complied with a six-page document. Apparently, there was no RFP for a vendor—just a sketchy six-page document and even more significant, there were no redactions, no privileges or exemptions. There was only a delay of three full weeks—14 working days—in complying with our request.
Louisiana Revised Statute 44:1 says:
- All books, records, writings, accounts, letters and letter books, maps, drawings, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, memoranda, and papers, and all copies, duplicates, photographs, including microfilm, or other reproductions thereof, or any other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, including information contained in electronic data processing equipment, having been used, being in use, or prepared, possessed, or retained for use in the conduct, transaction, or performance of any business, transaction, work, duty, or function which was conducted, transacted, or performed by or under the authority of the constitution or laws of this state, or by or under the authority of any ordinance, regulation, mandate, or order of any public body or concerning the receipt or payment of any money received or paid by or under the authority of the constitution or the laws of this state, are “public records.”
Louisiana Revised Statute 44:33 says:
- If the public record applied for is immediately available, because of its not being in active use at the time of the application, the public record shall be immediately presented to the authorized person applying for it. If the public record applied for is not immediately available, because of its being in active use at the time of the application, the custodian shall promptly certify this in writing to the applicant, and in his certificate shall fix a day and hour within three days, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays, for the exercise of the right granted by this Chapter.
Louisiana Revised Statute 44:37 says:
- Any person having custody or control of a public record, who violates any of the provisions of this Chapter, or any person not having such custody or control who by any conspiracy, understanding or cooperation with any other person hinders or attempts to hinder the inspection of any public records declared by this Chapter to be subject to inspection, shall upon first conviction be fined not less than one hundred dollars, and not more than one thousand dollars, or shall be imprisoned for not less than one month, nor more than six months. Upon any subsequent conviction he shall be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars, and not more than two thousand dollars, or imprisoned for not less than two months, nor more than six months, or both.
Meanwhile, LouisianaVoice has learned that DOA has launched an intensive witch hunt for our source on the employee satisfaction survey, which apparently was supposed to be a closely-guarded state secret. And while we really hate to even let them know this and spoil the fun, the funniest thing is they are so far off base in their search. They don’t have the foggiest idea that our sources are not even in a single building; they’re scattered throughout state government because apparently state employees place more trust in what we write than what the administration says.
So guys, have fun in your search because every time you think you’ve found one, three more pop up. You can’t stop the truth. Hell, you can’t even slow it down.
Given the results of the survey, it’s easy to understand why DOA wanted to keep the survey from public view. What’s not so easy to comprehend is why the Jindal administration is so hell-bent on keeping everything it does from public scrutiny.
We will make this observation, however: When an administration goes to such great lengths to shield its actions from public view and when that same administration expends an inordinate amount of time and effort in attempting to determine the source of leaks of such benign, non-sensitive information as a simple employee survey, one can only deduce that administration has far more to hide than a simple satisfaction survey.
And paranoia, it seems, feeds upon itself.