The Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) is requesting funding to support the hiring of critical positions in order to better align and balance activities due to disproportionate manager to staff ratio. Positions will alleviate some existing manager duties by providing supervisory support, ensuring quality assurance, tracking safety incidents and monitoring trends, and implementing and validating new methodologies.
To address the span of control at DCLS through the addition of Supervisory Senior Scientists in non-enterprise funded groups (9), a Group Manager to supervise a new group that must be created in response to increased workload in molecular characterization, and a Lead Scientist to guide the implementation and further development of new molecular characterization technology.
DCLS’ staffing level responsibilities have continued to rise since 2011 across the Division as a result of increases in public health testing activities such as:
• Detecting emerging threats of public health significance such as Ebola virus and Zika virus
• Implementing advanced molecular testing to improve Virginia’s ability to detect food and respiratory outbreaks and to rapidly identify sources of contaminated food in Virginia in order to prompt food recalls
• Implementing testing to help state and federal health officials to identify, track and respond to the increasing threat associated with antibiotic resistance pathogens in Virginia’s hospitals and medical institutions
• Implementing testing in support of establishing Virginia’s Biomonitoring Program aimed at detecting the presence of low level chemicals in Virginia’s citizens
• Expanding newborn screening testing and adding needed second tier confirmatory testing critical to DCLS mandate.
1. At the current time, DCLS group managers directly supervise more than 15 employees, and over 50% of the managers have more than 20 direct reports, while also being responsible for fiscal budgeting, handling employee relations (ie. hiring, evaluations, disciplinary actions, training), and ensuring quality assurance, safety and applicable accreditation requirements (ISO17025, NELAC and CLIA) are met. This workload is unmanageable and is likely the cause of recent safety incidents and confidentiality breaches that possibly could have been prevented if managers were not responsible for so many direct reports and other Division requirements. The addition of Supervisory Senior Scientists to track administrative issues, group budgets, safety and quality assurance issues will ensure Group Managers focus on critical managerial business needs of the laboratory and Technical Senior Scientists will dedicate more time to training the incoming workforce, implementing new methods, reviewing laboratory results prior to reporting to ensure the highest quality of laboratory testing and reporting.
2. The Molecular Characterization group is the most rapidly growing testing area aside from Newborn Screening. Innovative technological advances in molecular biology require a skillset distinct from the knowledge, skills and abilities currently within the Molecular Characterization workgroup, requiring expertise in multiple disciplines. Because of the complexity and volume of work, the duties and responsibilities for advanced molecular detection (AMD) testing are shared with a second testing area which exacerbates the existing control and traceability issues. The addition of a Group Manager will enable DCLS to centralize all highly complex AMD functions under a single supervisor with a concomitant decrease in the span of control for two other groups.
3. DCLS Lead Scientists serve as technical subject matter experts and are responsible for identifying and implementing new technologies. As such, these individuals obtain grant funding to support new initiatives and provide oversight to ensure objectives are met. The Lead Scientist directing advanced molecular detection activities currently manages seven grants approximating $2M and work for 20 staff. The application of AMD in public health, emergency response, agriculture and other DCLS customer bases is expanding such that a dedicated Lead Scientist is necessary to oversee these initiatives and communications with partners and stakeholders.
Expected results if request is funded:
• DCLS will reduce the span of control and direct responsibilities of critical staff and create a work environment where Managers, Senior Scientists, and Lead Scientists are able to successfully handle increased workload, quality and safety demands of the Division and also be available to comprehensively train a new and upcoming workforce to meet the high-quality needs of Virginia’s state laboratory and its customers.
|Consequences of not funding/Justification|
If this request is not funded:
• DCLS managers will continue to struggle with meeting Division goals and deadlines, managing their group spending, training staff, tracking quality and safety within their group and offering timely public health, environmental, and agricultural laboratory testing.
• DCLS will continue to experience high turnover in new staff due to the lack of supervisory mentorship and limited supervisor-to-employee face to face time.
• DCLS may not be able to continue to provide the diversity of testing currently available and/or implement new testing initiatives which will benefit public health, environmental, agriculture and emergency response activities at the state and federal level.
• DCLS may experience an increase in safety incidents, staff performance of non-conforming work that may compromise the integrity of maintaining accreditations, security breaches, and other consequences typically associated with other span of control issues.
In the August 2016 performance review of the Department of General Services, the Office of the Inspector General (OSIG) found in "Observation No.10" that the employee turnover within DCLS is excessive and recommended the following:
"DCLS should work with DGS’ Human Resources to conduct a compensation study to determine if compensation is both internally equitable and externally competitive in the market. If the review indicates that the division is not, then DGS should seek funding to increase applicable staff salaries to make them more equitable and/or competitive which may help retain the DCLS employees."
|Alternatives considered (must list at least one)|
• DCLS may require overtime of staff to meet Division benchmarks and deadlines, but this would likely result in loss of highly competent managers and scientific professionals if a longer-term solution was not available.
• DCLS is considering reorganization of the Division, but this will require a future decision package.
|Explanations and Methodologies|
Salaries were calculated based on the mean of the hiring range of the position. Benefits (VRS, FICA, Medicare, Retiree Health, etc.) were calculated using the current rates, healthcare costs were calculated using the cost for an employee only and Deferred comp was estimated at $240 per employee.
• 9 - Senior Scientist - Total Salary: $491,841
Total Benefits: $121,034
Total Healthcare: $69,876
Total Def Comp: $2,160
* Total Costs: $684,911
• 1 - Group Manager - Total Salary: $78,795
Total Benefits: $19,137
Total Healthcare: $7,764
Total Def Comp: $240
* Total Costs: $105,936
• 1 - Lead Scientist - Total Salary: $82,960
Total Benefits: $20,151
Total Healthcare: $7,764
Total Def Comp: $240
* Total Costs: $111,115
* All Costs Total: $901,962