Chicago Public Library Staffing Audit Follow-Up Inquiry

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed a follow-up to its May 2018 audit of the Chicago Public Library’s (CPL) staffing plan. Based on CPL’s responses, OIG concludes that the Department has not fully implemented any of the four corrective actions related to the audit findings and recommendations. CPL plans to implement OIG’s third and fourth recommendations later this year, but only partially implemented the second recommendation and does not intend to pursue any corrective action on the first.

The purpose of the May 2018 audit was to determine whether CPL’s staffing plan followed industry guidance and constituted an effective and efficient tool for allocating human resources among libraries. Our audit found that CPL’s staffing plan did not optimally align library staffing with community needs.

Based on the results of the audit, OIG recommended that CPL conduct a staff workload analysis to determine the amount of time employees in each job classification spent on each of their activities. OIG also recommended that CPL involve stakeholders—such as its Board of Directors, library employees, and community members—in redesigning its staffing plan around factors that will ensure libraries are appropriately staffed to meet community needs. CPL should also replace qualitative descriptors (e.g., “large” population size) with numeric ranges for factors that are quantifiable. OIG recommended that after CPL redesigned the staffing plan, it should consistently and completely apply the factors to allocate the appropriate staff to each library location. Finally, CPL should develop a process to evaluate the effectiveness of the staffing plan on a periodic basis and should modify it as needed to adjust to changes in library services and community needs.

In response to the audit, CPL described corrective actions it would take regarding some audit recommendations, but disagreed with OIG’s recommendation to disseminate the plan to all library employees and declined to involve CPL’s Board of Directors and community members in redesigning the plan.

In January 2019, OIG inquired about corrective actions taken by CPL. In its April 2019 response, CPL stated it has chosen not to conduct a staff workload analysis to understand the amount of time staff spend on specific activities. CPL simplified the staffing plan by removing hybrid library classifications, but has not quantified factors where possible, and still declines to involve the CPL Board of Directors, library employees, and community members in redesigning the plan. CPL has not yet reviewed the categorization of libraries within the staffing plan or developed a formal process for evaluating the plan’s effectiveness. It expects to start those processes in the third quarter of 2019. Then, in the fourth quarter, CPL intends to create a policy to codify how and when the staffing plan should be applied, evaluated, and updated.

We urge the Department to fully implement all corrective actions in order to best align library staffing with community needs.