January 20, 2022
Final Reports
San Mateo Courts - Civil Grand Jury 1998 Final Report: Information Services Employee Survey
Background | Findings | Commendations | Recommendations

In order to ensure that the Information Services Department (ISD) was providing the best possible service in this rapidly changing field, previous San Mateo County Grand Juries and outside consultants studied the effectiveness of ISD and made various recommendations. As a result of these recommendations, a Strategic Information Systems Plan was developed, Executive Council oversight and review was recommended, and papers on ISD's strategic direction were presented. The San Mateo County 1998 Grand Jury decided to take a “bottoms-up” approach in its follow-up evaluation of ISD by going to the computer users for comments. This evaluation was accomplished through the use of a questionnaire that was widely distributed to County employees. The questionnaire asked about overall acceptance, training and ease of use of the computer systems.

The questionnaire was a two page survey consisting of 18 questions. Some inquiries required specific answers while others encouraged comments from the employee. The survey was distributed randomly to individuals with e-mail addresses in all County departments. Two hundred and fifty surveys were distributed through internal mail in a manner that ensured that all County departments were represented and 26% of the surveys were returned.

P>Most of the employees who returned the survey had been employed by the County between six to 20 years, and more than half of the employees had previous computer experience before joining their department. Final analysis of the returned survey indicated an overall satisfaction with the ISD computer system.

Positive comments were received in the following areas:

  • The vast majority of employees reported little or no down-time of the computer system.
  • While most employees reported very little training in terms of hours of instruction, most evaluated the training as either excellent, very good or good.
  • Employees rated the internal and external communications as satisfactory.
  • All departments reported that they recycle paper.

Most of the employees were satisfied with the network, but many would have liked broader capabilities such as fax, internet, e-mail beyond their department, and access to County data and resources from home. The employees were equally divided on the question of whether they felt they had easy access to problem solving via the Help Desk.

The following comments indicated areas that needed improvement:

  • ISD was not well known to employees. They were not sure what services are offered by ISD.
  • There is a bewildering assortment of platforms of various manufacturers with various ages. Some are more than ten years old.
  • There is a wide number of different brands of software applications used by employees. There is no commonality of basic word processing, database or spreadsheet applications.
  • There is no program for evaluation of new ideas from employees.
  • A significant percentage of employees reported that their workstations were not ergonomically correct. This is a serious deficiency that may manifest itself with a large number of workers' compensation claims in the future.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors should commend all departments for their support and participation in the recycling program.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors should commend the Information Services Department for providing a reliable, low down-time system throughout the County.

Recommendation 1: The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors should direct the Information Services Department to implement by June 1, 1999, a suggestion program throughout County departments to encourage employee ideas for improvement
Recommendation 2: The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors should direct:
  • The Information Services Department to develop a set of specifications that meet industry ergonomic standards for the workplace to prevent repetitive motion injuries and potential workers’ compensation claims.
  • All Departments of the County to evaluate their computer work stations to ensure compliance with the standards established. The evaluations should be completed by June 1, 1999.
  • All departments in the County to correct deficiencies by December 30, 1999.
Recommendation 3: The Director of the San Mateo County Human Services Agency and the San MThe San Mateo County Board of Supervisors should direct Information Services Department to establish a policy by June 1, 1999, that would phase in a standardization of basic software applications (e.g., word processing, spreadsheets, database) throughout all departments.
Recommendation 4: The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury should monitor the implementation of the above recommendations.


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