Contractors State License Board Releases its Report of 2004 Accomplishments and Activities
The Contractors State License Board released its new 2004 Accomplishments and Activities Report this week at its quarterly meeting in San Diego. The report highlights the Board's work in areas including, enforcement, licensing and testing, legislation and policies, communication and education, and organizational development.
"Like every state agency, the Board has had to prioritize its limited resources," said Larry Booth, Board Chair. "Thanks to hard work by everyone, we've been able to successfully eliminate our licensing backlog. We still face a lot of staffing challenges, but everyone in the industry should take a lot of pride in the Board staff's ability to do more with less."
This Industry Bulletin focuses on some of the major accomplishments in 2004. To read the entire report, please visit the Board's Web site by clicking here.
- Plans are quickly moving ahead to open the Board's ninth Investigative Center (IC). The new center will be in Oxnard and will serve Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, filling the gap between the Los Angeles Basis and the San Francisco Bay Area Ics. An Enforcement Supervisor position has been established for this office. It is anticipated that administrative support staff will be permanently reassigned within the next year, allowing the office to provide assistance to consumers, licensees and applicants on a full-time basis.
- Since July 2001, the Enforcement Division lost 58 staff positions. Despite the losses, Enforcement staff reduced pending complaints by 284 during the 2004 calendar year. In addition, complaint handling cycle times were reduced.
- In 2004, enforcement staff worked hard to assist industry and consumers in resolving construction-related disputes in non-egregious matters. Staff utilized a number of means from mediation over the phone to referring a complaint to the Board's private arbitration vendor. As a result of this hard work, restitution paid to consumers in 2004 included almost $13 million in cash refunds and almost $1.6 million in workmanship corrections.
- CSLB continued its aggressive work at combating the underground economy. Efforts included aggressive investigations of consumer driven complaints, responding to industry leads, and developing and fostering stronger working relations with other regulatory and law enforcement agencies. In 2004, 1,057 non-licensee complaints were referred to local District Attorneys' offices for advertising, workers' compensation, and licensure violations. Part of those results came from 34 sting operations that resulted in 329 misdemeanor and 21 felony arrests. Almost 1,500 non-licensee administrative citations were issued in 2004, assessing almost $2 million in civil penalties.
Licensing & Testing Highlights
- Since 2000, the number of applications CSLB received has steadily increased. Exam applications increased 61%; waiver applications increased 32% and add class applications increased 27%. Even so, the Board was successful in keeping backlogs and the Licensing Division's critical functions at acceptable levels.
- As a result of increased workload in the Licensing Division processing units during 2004, Information Center staff was utilized on an ongoing basis to process licensing documents so that backlogs would not occur. To address the drop in service level, a call center improvement group was formed in an effort to increase responsiveness to the Board's customers. As a result, during the last quarter of 2004 the number of calls answered doubled and the average wait time was dramatically decreased to less than ten minutes.
- In 2004, staff successfully negotiated new agreements with several bonding companies to submit new contractor license bonds to the CSLB in electronic format. During 2004, 17,175 license bonds were transmitted electronically. This is an average of more than 1,400 per month.
- CSLB staff also worked with the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) to implement the electronic submission of certificates of insurance. This program was implemented in mid-September 2004 and a total of 9,043 certificates were electronically submitted and processed by the end of 2004. Automating the processing of contractors' bonds and workers' compensation certificates makes for more accurate and efficient processing, faster turnaround time and less paperwork.
- In November 2004, the CSLB reached a formal written reciprocity agreement with Arizona. The agreement allows each state to waive the trade exam for applicants who have held a license in good standing in the reciprocal state for the five years immediately preceding the filing of an application. The agreement identifies 21 California classifications that are reciprocal with Arizona. It's important to note that these applicants will still need to pass CSLB's Law and Business Examination before they can get a California license.
- In 2004, the Licensing staff prepared to begin implementation of fingerprinting for all new license applicants and home improvement salesperson registrants. Phase I of the project began in January 1, 2005.
- CSLB's Testing Division completed nine occupational analyses and developed six new examinations in 2004. As a result, all of the Board's exams are now updated and are based on occupational analyses completed in the last five years.
Communications & Education Highlights
- During 2004, the Board's Public Affairs Office distributed 15 press releases, organized three media events and distributed four press releases to publicize undercover stings. Staff also fielded more than 250 media inquiries, resulting in an estimated 32 million media impressions.
- In 2004, almost one million pieces of educational material were distributed by the CSLB. The distribution includes the publication itself and the number of times specific publications were accessed from the CSLB Web site.
- During 2004, the CSLB expanded the functionality of its Interactive Voice Response System. Callers can now request various CSLB forms and publications to be faxed instead of leaving a voice mail and the form mailed. This enables a caller to select the desired form or publication, key in their fax number, and a fax of the form or publication will be sent/faxed to them. Callers can also used the automated system to:
- Checking a License Status;
- Get information on hiring contractors, complaints, and judgments;
- Providing contractors with information on applying for and maintaining their license
Roughly 800,000 calls were placed to the IVR in 2004.
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