New Transformation Project Report Available

May 23, 2017

The California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) today released the Final Transformation Progress Report. This report summarizes the accomplishments and foundational work the department completed over a two-year period to better serve California’s diverse population and create a more inviting, relevant state park system. Such efforts include strengthening relationships with partners and local communities, streamlining payment processes, and improving access for all Californians. Dubbed “Transformation,” this important process represents the department’s commitment to improving California’s state park system as well as the many recreational programs supported by the DPR.

In July 2013, the Secretary of Natural Resources appointed the Parks Forward Commission (Commission) to assess the unique challenges California’s state parks face and help identify solutions to solidify the future of the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The Commission released its final recommendations in the report titled, “A New Vision for California State Parks.”

Guided by the 2014 draft Commission report, the Administration assembled a Transformation Team (Team), comprised of qualified, experienced, and dedicated personnel from the DPR, outside entities and professional consultants. This Team developed a two-year tactical Transformation Action Plan that set forth four strategic goals for the state park system:

  • Protect and enhance natural and cultural resources.
  • Develop excellent management systems.
  • Maintain high-quality operations and public service.
  • Create meaningful connections and relevancy to people.

Based on these goals, the Team and its committees developed initiatives reflected in the Final Transformation Report which will continue to improve California’s state park system. Highlights from the report demonstrate how the initiatives:

  • Strengthened the connection to the public that we serve through public meetings held around the state to hear their vision for the future of the DPR and the programs that are important to those communities.
  • Closed the gap in time for revenue collection from months to days by replacing all manual revenue collections (bank deposits and credit card transactions) with an electronic system. Previously a dollar collected at a state park could take months to register in the DPR’s fiscal system. Revenues are now registered within 48 hours.
  • Stood up a more comprehensive district budget allocation process that is synced to the annual budget process with a more detailed tracking of current fiscal year expenditures. The top field managers have comprehensive budget information by July 1, allowing them to manage their programs more effectively. In the past, managers did not receive their budget information until the fall—months after the beginning of the fiscal year and the heavy visitor season of the summer.
  • Added more automated payment machines at state park units. Some units are also collecting parking revenue via smartphone technology.
  • Opened positions to candidates from broader and more diverse professional backgrounds so that our management team is more reflective of the diverse professional teams working throughout the department. Also, opening up the candidate pool to talented applicants from outside state service allows for a more competitive process to select the top leaders for the state park system.
  • Improved relations with our partners by creating a partnerships office. The partnership office serves as a concierge for partners, assisting them in working with state government. The office also enhances the support for parks field staff working with our partners.
  • Created a Leadership Development Program with California State University of Sacramento. Graduated the first class of department leaders.
  • Awarded a new comprehensive reservation system contract to support field operations and enhance the experience of our visitors with a modern, relevant and engaging platform. The roll out of the new system begins on August 1 and will be completed throughout the park system by spring 2018.
  • Launched community liaison projects at Los Angeles State Historic Park and Candlestick Point State Recreation Area to further engage with communities and build state parks from the ground with them, not for them.
  • Introduced and showcased California’s public outdoor places through programs such as Outdoor Youth Connection, Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS), Google Street View Treks and social media platforms such as Periscope.

The Final Transformation Progress Report sets a foundational path for the DPR. The department plans to maintain and enhance the initiatives and projects developed during the original timeframe well after the two-year transformation period. To that end, a sustainability strategy has been implemented to hand off initiatives and projects at appropriate times to the DPR workgroups for implementation.

This report reflects a sustained and impressive level of commitment from the Transformation Team, committees, subcommittees, work groups, staff, partners, stakeholders, Administration and Legislature to make long-transformative, system-wide change at the California Department of Parks and Recreation. The department will continue working with its partners to protect and preserve the state’s iconic natural, cultural and historic resources, provide access to all Californians, engage younger generations, and promote the healthy lifestyles and communities that are uniquely Californian.