I thought it would be helpful to share with you a report card on our progress implementing the requirements and suggestions outlined the final report from the agency’s recent Sunset review.
First, a few major items have occupied significant time, energy and focus for the agency staff in the last year. The most important of these is customer service improvements, especially in our contact center. And this category also includes tracking and reporting of actual time spent processing various applications. I am very happy to report to you that in June our average call hold time for TREC and for TALCB were under 3 minutes! A dramatic improvement over the worst quarterly average of about 18.5 minutes almost 18 months ago! Today about 87% of all callers connect with staff and do not need to use our automated call-back feature.
Another major item was required improvements in the agency’s budget forecasting, controls, and reserve fund policies. Beginning in November of 2018, budgeting and reserve policies were updated and fee reductions were proposed to better align revenues with expenses. In February, budgets were amended and policies updated to reflect this ongoing process and fee reductions were approved and became effective March 1 of this year. Other miscellaneous fees are being recommended to be cut going forward, in addition to the elimination of fees related to branch offices and instructor licensing. All of these combined are designed to collect only the fees we need and in amounts we can justify.
Reserve funds that had previously been restricted for potential construction projects have been repurposed to include a much broader range of potential uses to advance technology initiatives and other customer service improvements. Updating our aging technology to create new customer service tools is apparent in automated license history displays, continuing education detail, application progress tracking and other service enhancements. All are available for TREC today and planned soon for TALCB.
The final major issue was a challenge to the TALCB to meet much faster complaint and audit resolution timeframes, reducing average complaint resolutions from the one-year federal requirement – which the Board has met consistently since 2013 – to just 180 days! Some major resource reallocations have been directed to respond to this challenge. Three new staff were added to the enforcement team to speed up complaint processing, and commercial expertise for both complaints and audits was added by engaging more contractors who are qualified practicing appraisers. This approach is already beginning to show some promise.
We will never stop looking for ways to improve the services we provide and reducing costs to make us more efficient. Please stay engaged and offer us your input on any options we present. Aim high!