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Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania Meeting Minutes

June 24, 2014

Office of Vocational Rehabilitation
Central Office
1521 N. 6th Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
Members Present
Rod Alcidonis
Marianne Boltz
Arnold Bowser
David De Notaris
Joseph Drenth
Brenda Loughrey
Carlton Anne Cook-Walker
Donna Reinaker
Public Attendees
Kelly Boylan-Luchau
Carole Bowser
Anna Walker
John Horst
John Bungo
Nan Bonnett-Foik
Jennifer Cave
Connie Moonen
Robert Schramm
Susan Neff
Tonda Miller
Stan Swaintek
2015 Blindness Awareness Expo
  • Need date, awards
  • ID date for next June
OVR Executive Director’s Report
  • Leaving OVR June 30th
    • Going to the Department of Public Welfare
    • 2 years, 10 months at OVR
      • Fixed issues and put things in place
    • Thanked the committee for volunteering their time. We value the work of the ACBP. Thank you for your support.
  • Budget
    • We are in a strong fiscal position.
  • BEP Audit Introduction
    • In September 2011, when I started, I realized there were issues in BEP, but there were larger issues with the OVR budget.
    • In May 2012, we requested an audit from the Bureau of Audits. They began their audit in September of 2012. The BEP Elected Committee recommended the audit.
    • We can’t fix problems unless we know of them.
    • Auditors’ final report was completed January 2014.
    • Thanked Kelly Boylan-Luchau. She was invaluable during audit. Kelly and her team have been working hard to implement fixes.
    • We don’t want to dwell on the past. Audits are about finding out what is wrong and fixing it.
    • January through March we received about 80 questions from the Elected Committee and legislatures regarding the audit.
    • On March 22, we met with the Elected Committee and answered every question.
    • We brought on Karen Kroh as an annuitant. She is an expert in regulatory management.
    • We are happy to talk about the audit with you today. Our goal is transparency.
  • Grant Proposals?
  • We are working with the provider who submitted the proposal. We hope to announce the provider by 7/15. The program will begin on October 1st. We foresee no issues in meeting this Oct 1st start date.
BEP Audit
  • Does anyone have any idea as to why the audit hadn’t been called before?
  • The audit period was 2006-2012.
  • We can all speculate on the issues.
  • We are beyond what led to the issues.
  • We are in the business of fixing the issues now.
  • Can you request an audit every two years?
  • You can request an audit as often as you like.
  • They are not free. This audit was $40, 000. To complete an audit every two years is expensive.
  • There may be other ways of ensuring that we are on the right track, such as establishing checks and balances.
  • The steps we have taken have assisted the program with transparency. This puts everyone in a better situation.
  • Agree with David.
  • Are there procedures to make the program self-auditing, procedures that would prevent people from getting away with stuff?
  • We have developed multiple procedures for our processes: checks and balances are in place.
  • Kelly will talk about redundancies and healthy checks and balances with BEP, BBVS and BCO
  • Thank you Steve for your contributions to OVR.
  • Thank you Steve for being a possibility thinker and for focusing on fixing the problem not the blame.
  • Reiterate what Steve said: you can’t fix problems you don’t know about.
  • The audit presented many challenges to overcome.
  • Over the past few months, a lot of attention has been focused on staffing.
  • Annuitants that we have brought on have been a tremendous help.
  • Our focus: Make our Business Enterprise Program the best program in country.
  • Thanked Ryan and Steve for fiscal processes they have put in place to make the program transparent.
  • Kelly and staff have worked very hard to fix the program and create more opportunities for operators
  • What we are working on to fix the issues identified in the audit:
    • Created an AO1 position to assist with administrative duties. This will free up agents to do more monitoring.
    • We reallocated a CT2 position to a CT3 position.
    • AO4 position created that will supervisor the program.
    • The accountant 2 in BCO has been assisting with BEP fiscal work.
    • Temporary staff:
      • Annuitant to work on BEP contracts
      • CT3
      • 2 agents
      • Karen Kroh
    • Working with HR to revamp the BEP agent position to attract qualified candidates
  • Training for staff
    • Record retention training
    • Blindness Awareness training
    • Met with Agriculture regarding the food code
    • Met with Revenue regarding taxes on food
  • We have increased meetings and communications.
  • Record keeping: Centralized filing system for BEP
  • The BEP system now has restricted and protected access.
  • Dashboard – shows expenditures by general ledger
    • Send monthly to the Elected Committee
  • Checks
    • Checks and balances: 3 match system
    • Fiscal now scans all checks and enters within the system within 72 hours.
    • Constantly reconciling
    • Everyone has been trained on coding
      • This means that now we are making sure all expenditures are correctly categorized.
  • Previously, purchases were made but not coded to the correct area. For example, refrigerators were placed under food codes and it looked as though we spent 50K on food, when it was, actually, a refrigerator.
BEP Budget/Finance
  • We establish the budget and stay within our limits.
  • New budget will go to the Elected Committee this week.
  • Training Center will be in one of our buildings.
  • Retirement contributions are up.
  • We don’t buy in bulk.
  • Inventory Control – 92% complete.
    • Karen Kroh is helping to develop a Standard Operating Procedure on inventory.
  • How many agents are there?
  • Four. One is currently out on leave.
  • Duties of the agents?
  • Many roles: counselor, regulator, accountant and repair coordinator
  • Assist operator in every aspect of the business. We are the liaison between building and operator.
  • They go the extra mile. Even help make sandwiches sometimes. Sometimes the operators want our help, sometimes they don’t.
  • Very complex job. They can go from being a cheerleader to being a disciplinarian.
  • 38 operators?
  • Yes
  • What are the qualifications of an agent?
  • Customer service
  • Owned/ran own business
  • Issue we are having is that the MET requirements are so specific; no one qualifies for the job now.
  • We are working with HR. However, a new position takes 18 months to 2 years to develop and pass approvals.
  • In assigning agents, do you take into account specific locations?
  • We are working on centralizing everything to send an agent with specific skills to areas that need those skills.
  • Difficult to go after locations if you don’t have operators to fill those locations.
  • We have three operators starting the September training.
  • Do you have placements for the three new operators?
  • Yes. Within the 55 current locations.
  • There are a lot of operators retiring. We have 18 operators over 65.
  • How many new operators have replaced those that retired?
  • Six
  • How do you recruit?
  • As of yesterday, we’ve interviewed 20 people.
  • Goal is to get to 50 next year.
  • We have to create an awareness of BEP in the district offices.
  • Trends? Are you increasingly unable to recruit?
  • Why no young operators?
  • National trend
    • Down 1,000 operators
    • Average age is 58.
  • Overbrook, Summer Transition Program, kids will have the opportunity to shadow jobs. They will shadow BEP sites.
  • Some operators don’t want to run a cafeteria. They would rather run a vending route. Some people do drop out.
  • Program is not responsive to the needs/wishes of the people
  • We are geared towards RSA.
  • Not a glamorous field for those with culinary arts skills. Individuals don’t feel as though they are using their culinary skills to their potential.
  • Young individuals don’t want to put the extended amount of time and training into it.
  • To have to go to HGAC, train for 14 weeks and live in a college dorm among college-age students is not ideal for older individuals.
  • At Summer Academy do you discuss BEP?
  • At Career Day
  • Have kids shadowed operators to learn the program?
  • Don Pearl has students come to his location for job shadowing. We have at least 3-4 operators willing to work with teenagers to job shadow.
  • Seniority?
  • Every state is different. Here, when you bid, it goes by the most senior.
  • Dashboard?
  • Fiscal enters revenue in SAP.
  • We keep a list of repairs.
  • Keep track to see who we are spending money on
  • Laundry facility?
  • Loretto prison laundry services
  • We have attempted to pursue other opportunities within the Department of Corrections.
  • We want to focus on fixing well what we have now before we go into other areas.
  • Federal Act. We have the right to operate at federal facilities. We don’t have priority on state or private property.
  • To take over vending at these properties, we would have to convince the owners that we can do a better job.
  • When do we make this program a serious business opportunity?
  • Balancing act
  • Our job is to be possibility thinkers for our customers to succeed.
  • Other entrepreneur opportunities with OVR?
  • VR program
  • They must have an approved business plan, then we provide a 10K match for them.
  • Franchise?
  • We do have Starbucks.
  • Down the road, more opportunity for franchises
  • Airports are an opportunity.
  • Bottom line number: How much do you spend per vendor?
  • 1 million we’ve spent total. 55 sites. 37 vendors.
  • New policies in place.
  • Operators handle their own costs under $100.
  • Need more training on vending machines
  • Half/half split repairs?
  • Problem is that the Federal government made it our responsibility to provide for repairs.
  • Responsibility should be placed back on the vendor
  • We can look at the definition of repair and what classifies as a repair.
  • Thanked Kelly and BEP team for helping us to make the program the best in the country.
Stan Swaintek
  • TVI program with Overbrook starts next week. Transition from school to employment
    • 12 kids
    • Some activities: visit Aramark and learn public transportation and independent living skills
  • Summer Academy
    • 3-week program at Penn State Univ.
    • 20 Resident Assistants
    • Classes in O&&M, assistive technology, rehabilitation teaching and vocational rehabilitation
    • Can participate in an actual Penn State College class
    • Recreational activities at Shaver’s Creek: high ropes, canoeing and rock climbing
    • Career Day
    • August 1st is graduation
  • ILOB/Children’s Services/RT/O&M/VR
    • Goal is to make these services consistent statewide
Susan Neff
  • Continue Jump Start growth
  • 8 sessions and 6 more scheduled
  • Collect data from exit interviews
    • Results: Jump Start is facilitating community inclusion and confidence.
  • 15 referrals from Jump Start
  • Transportation is our biggest issue.
  • Rich Fischer, Pittsburgh District Administrator, retired.
  • We have hired a new assistive technology specialist.
  • There is an RFP to make just 1 TACE Center.
  • Public comments?
  • Move to adjourn
  • Second