Preckwinkle Unveils Forest Preserve District's Comprehensive Desk Audit

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Forest Preserve District General Superintendent Arnold Randall released the findings of a comprehensive desk audit today which was performed to assess the Forest Preserve District’s overall effectiveness. President Preckwinkle ordered the desk audit to fulfill her commitment to transparency, accountability, and improved services to the residents and taxpayers of Cook County. The goal of the desk audit was to ask whether “jobs are properly functioning and correctly represented in each role description,” according to the report. “We are making good on our commitment that Cook County government would become open, honest, and effective,” said President Preckwinkle. “This desk audit gives a clear road map for the Forest Preserve District to implement these necessary reforms. I have full confidence in Superintendent Randall’s abilities to carry out the recommendations in the desk audit report. The desk audit report lists 118 recommendations to improve the Forest Preserve District. Superintendent Randall has also tasked an internal committee to implement the recommendations and pledged to release a quarterly evaluation about the District's progress. “We sincerely appreciate the participation from 100% of our employees in the desk audit. It was our employees’ candor, ideas and solutions that formed the basis of the recommendations to strengthen and rebuild the Forest Preserve,” said Superintendent Randall. “But there is no doubt that there are critical areas where the Forest Preserve must make constructive changes: from improving our internal communications and upgrading our technology, to more effectively evaluating our employees on an annual basis and clarifying employees’ job descriptions and roles,” said Superintendent Randall. Some recommendations from the desk audit are already being implemented, such as: Upgraded legal software, such as ABACUS, to increase efficiency and productivity in the Legal Department; Full new hire orientation for seasonal staff; Improved collaboration and coordination among the District’s six nature centers in the Resource Management Department. To improve and streamline the Forest Preserve District’s operations, these recommendations, and others from the desk audit report, will be implemented: Institute annual job performance reviews and evaluations; Provide training to all managers on objectively assessing employees and implement annual review process; Review of all job descriptions and clarify division of labor; Introduce annual employee engagement survey by 3rd party vendor; Introduce SWIPE system of signing in and out for Forest Preserve employees; Provide email addresses to all employees; Introduce an intranet system to share information, store data, and archive best practices and policies. Background and Methodology: The Forest Preserve contracted with AMD Business Solutions, Inc. to conduct an independent audit to ascertain whether jobs are properly functioning and correctly represented in each job description. The audit included in-person interviews with 100% of available staff from May 9, to June 24, 2011. The employee interviews consisted of 18 core questions related to job duties, scope, authority, autonomy, and supervisory responsibility. Employees were provided with a copy of the questions in advance of the interviews. As the report notes, “the purpose of the desk audit is to evaluate the position, not the person.”