Contractors’ State License Board Takes Steps Towards Outsourcing Exam Administration

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By Mariela Romo

At its December 12, 2019 meeting, the Contractors’ State License Board (CSLB) voted to pursue action to outsource CSLB exam administration and pursue legislation that would grant CSLB authority to outsource exam administration. CSLB is currently responsible for administering its own exams.

At that meeting Chief of Licensing, Justin Paddock, presented the Board with two options: (1) continue to administer exams “in-house” at an annual cost of $3.2 million, or $73 per exam, or, (2) outsource exam administration at a yearly cost of $2.6 million, or $59 per exam. Mr. Paddock reported that if exams were outsourced, CSLB would save about $624,000, a nineteen percent reduction in test administration costs. In addition to budgetary savings, Mr. Paddock explained that outsourcing exam administration would result in more testing locations and times because test-takers would be able to take their exam on Saturdays and evenings. Testing facility locations would increase from 17 to 22. Despite outsourcing, CSLB would continue to develop the exam and exam questions.

The Staff Report analyzing the move towards outsourcing the test administration advised that, although the Board would experience cost savings, there are two potential negative impacts of outsourcing: (1) outstanding testing facility leases and (2) elimination of sixteen full-time positions and two intermittent positions. In regard to outstanding facility leases, Mr. Paddock explained that outsourcing would be implemented by a phase-out plan which would allow CSLB to finish out its current testing facility leases. Therefore, as contracts end, the new testing administration would be implemented.

Concerning the elimination of certain positions, Chief Deputy Registrar, Tonya Corcoran, explained that CSLB would work with the Department of Consumer Affairs and Cal HR, to place existing staff in either other positions with the Board, or within other state agencies. Ms. Corcoran stated that because there are numerous state agencies, she does not believe that placement for surplus staff would be problematic.

The Board unanimously voted to (1) take steps to outsource exam administration to an outside vendor, and (2) pursue legislation to grant CSLB authority to outsource exam administration.

At this writing, no legislation has been introduced that would grant the Board the authority to outsource its examinations.

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