The state controller says California's payroll computer program is so antiquated it would take six months to reconfigure it to change workers' pay.
State personnel officials acknowledge the 70-year-old 10-step hiring system means it can take three years for a qualified applicant to land a state job.
No one even knows how much gasoline is burned up each year by the state's vehicle fleet.
This is apparently one tough state to run.
Even setting aside the frequent, fractious and protracted political squabbles among elected officials – such as the current fight over the budget – state government is riddled with systemic problems.
They range from a personnel system that rewards seniority over competency to piecemeal programs that make it almost impossible to measure how well or badly the programs are doing.
"The overriding problem is that there is no real incentive or focus in state government on the real fundamental question that should be asked of virtually everything the state does, and that is, 'How can we do this better?' " said Jim Mayer, executive director of California Forward, a nonpartisan public policy group that pushes reforms in state government and politics.
"There is not a system in place that says, 'OK, how are you going to do a better job with what you've got?' "
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