OASIS has completed a two-year study on how agencies distribute and use funds for central administration program support and direct service purposes. This study breaks new ground in setting clear ground-rules around how the data was collected. These collection protocols resulted in an “apples to apples” comparison of data from fourteen ACLs in Ontario, representing small and large, urban and rural, union and non-union.
The study was done with the assistance of Tom Little, from the Centre for Management of Community Services, under the auspices of an OASIS Task Force, Chaired by Gordon Anton, E.D., Collingwood.
The data sheds new light in several directions and most assuredly, raises questions around assumptions built into MCSS policy directions, which have driven their agenda in the past two to three years.
What follows are highlights of some of the important findings:
1) Central Admin Costs are averaging 8.7%. This is made up of 6% in salaries and benefits and 2.7% in other central admin costs.
2) There was little variation among participating agencies even taking into account geography, size and the employee bargaining status.
3) On average, 95% of staff were involved with program delivery.
4) Of this 95%, 88% of staff worked directly with individuals with developmental disabilities and 7% were required for program support.
5) The remaining 5% of agency staff worked in central administration.
6) The average salary for all staff within agencies was $31,000.
7) The average salary for direct service staff was $29,200, for program support staff $38,600 and for central administration staff, $40,500.
The data shows clearly that the 1998 MCSS directives for agencies to move central admin expenses from 12% to 10% over three years, had no basis in fact. Further, lowering central admin costs was central to the “Making Services Work” exercise. The facts show that CA is already comparatively low and that further diminishing returns in this area will erode agency infrastructures to the point where services are seriously jeopardized.
While not the subject of this study, anecdotal evidence in many agencies in this service sector, paints a clear picture of an eroding administrative base for most agencies. Service managers, supervisors and secretarial support are positions which have been decimated in the past eight or so years, under continuing fiscal restraint. The facts now support arguments that even front line support and service quality are being affected. Due to comparatively low salaries, agencies are losing good people to both health and education sectors and this exacerbates the tremendous strain placed upon the developmental sector. There is no question, the developmental sectorhas undergone profound change.
Recently, there have been quiet MCSS acknowledgements that perhaps the government restraint over eight-plus years has gone too far. However, there are no concrete initiatives to address pay equity issues, inter-sectoral salary inequities, or even reintroducing cost of living adjustments.
All in all, it is a sector which continues to be under siege, despite the facts showing ominous warning signs. It is a sector which does not get the attention of Health and Education and because of it, languishes in relative obscurity from the public point of view.
OASIS agencies will have received a full copy of the OASIS Admin Cost Study.