I've always wondered why it takes week for the CA Sec. of State's Office to process business filings. Often these delays prevent business owners from getting licenses and opening bank accounts. I was surprised to learn (not really though) that it only takes New York seven days and Texas five days to process similar filings.
Recently, Debra Bowen, the Secretary of State was grilled in front of the CA legislature and it wasn't a pretty picture. It revealed an office so out of date that it actually relies on 3 x 5 index cards as its filing system.
More from the OC Register:
"I almost needed smelling salts the first day I took a tour of the Secretary of State's office," said Bowen, a former Marina Del Rey legislator who was first elected California's chief elections officer and business records clerk in 2006. "It was just so incredibly paper-driven."
Bowen's office has taken heat in recent days after it was revealed that her staff was taking 43 days to process business filings. As Assembly Budget Committee staff reported, this backlog delays businesses from starting up or hiring employees and postpones business tax payments.
New York processes such documents in seven days, committee staff found. Texas, five days.
"There is a scoreboard," Daly said, referring to the other states' better turnaround times. "At some point, the time for excuses is over."
Bowen says her office needs $8.9 million in new money over the next fiscal year, and millions more after that, to fund dozens of new staff positions necessary to handle the workload and reduce the backlog until a new, digital filing system comes online in 2016.
That new system, known as California Business Connect, will create a central records database and put the Secretary of State's services on the Internet. But Bowen complained that the state's procurement process is needlessly protracted and requires her to spend "a ridiculous amount of money" just on the paperwork to "get the project on the docket to get done."
"We spend a year getting the feasibility report done. Then it takes a several months after that to hire a contractor to write the request for proposal. That's another three to four months – it could be even longer than that," Bowen told the subcommittee. "That one was approved by the Legislature in July of 2011. The request for proposal, the RFP, was released in August 2012. Draft bids from vendors were submitted in late January of this year and are currently being reviewed.
"So ... the normal processing time for a large IT project ... you get to 2016," she said. "That has to be changed."
Further complicating matters, Bowen said, is her office building's lack of outlets and her staff's requirement to use the state Department of General Services to procure rewiring services. She specifically asked the committee for authority to pursue the rewiring on her own, without the assistance of the department, which acts as the "business manager" for other state agencies.