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Administrative Staff Reports

October 12, 2018

Report as of Oct. 12.

Major projects completed –

  • Onsite audit review by team of 6 contracted auditors working under the remote supervision of a manager in the Office of Inspector General. The five day process looked at personnel, financial, monitoring activities, grant making process, and required policies. This intense period has been followed by regular requests for additional information and documentation. According to the timeline provided at the entrance conference, this is likely to continue through June 2019.
  • The Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism was held October 9 at UMaine. Over the past few years this migrated to my corner and the planning/execution is done with the aid of 6 volunteer leaders around the state. Although attendance was down by 50 this year, initial feedback is that this set of educational sessions was the best ever.

    A new element at the conference was swearing-in AmeriCorps members. In the past we’ve done this in the Capitol’s Hall of Flags. By moving it to the conference, we can emphasize that these people are the next generation of volunteer leaders in Maine communities. Associate Justice Andrew Mead presided and new Commissioner Jenifer Tilton-Flood was mistress of ceremonies.

    Another extra activity that played out around the event was updating its identity and selecting a new logo. Conference participants voted on the new image and it is here.

    Thanks to Nicole Pellenz and Melissa Moffett from Machias Savings for arranging underwriting. Cabot Creamery was a hit as a sponsor again – they contribute funds and product. A committee member, Beth Tatro, managed to get Volgistics to come on board this year.

Issues to be aware of –

  • There is a national working group developing a response to the CNCS-created debacle around enrolling new AmeriCorps members and I am a member. The short story is that CNCS rolled out a major policy and procedure change with no notice to the field. Because the change was not staged nor was did it go through a check on whether underlying assumptions were true, it is preventing programs from enrolling members. In Maine and around the country, people who thought they had started serving have had hours disallowed for both database glitch reasons and misinformation reasons. Conversations with CNCS have not been productive.
  • There continue to be facility issues with our new space and building. In addition, state government is converting to Windows 10 and moving all agency files to the cloud. These administrative issues slow down our office activity simply because they take time and always involve some glitch.
  • The request for exemption to the hiring freeze related to filling the Grant Officer position was submitted. It will not be considered until mid-November (there is a routine time each month these are reviewed). It may take until March to find a Grant Officer based on the last hiring experience.
  • The Secretary Specialist position is in search-round-two. It closes October 17 and HR will need a few days to catalog and review applicants. I will try to set up interviews for early November (I’m out of state from October 23-30).

Major focus of effort in the new month –

  • The three Requests for Proposals for AmeriCorps will be issued. All have been drafted and are wending their way through Procurement review and authorization.
  • Wrapping up the conference and conducting the Committee debrief.
  • Stepping in as interim Grant Officer – enforcing corrective actions, collecting disallowances, closing out grants that are ending (natural 3-year expirations and others), compiling federal grantee performance report, etc.
  • Submitting Commission application for operating funds for 2019.
  • The fall session of the online volunteer management course opens and I am the instructor for the online courses. Supporting those students while learning a new delivery technology myself is the “major effort.”
  • Working with temp staff person on finalizing the MCCS plan infographic and maintaining external communications during this period of being short-staffed.
  • Working with Michael to identify the evaluation/data quality coach to work with grantees. Funding is in the technical assistance (CIF) budget and we need to get the person into the field ASAP.