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National Correctional Industries Association Summary Findings of the 2004-2005 Piecp Assessment Report 2006.pdf

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NATIONAL CORRECTIONAL INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION, INC.
1202 North Charles St. *

Baltimore, MD 21201 *

(410) 230-3972

*

Fax (410) 230-3981

SUMMARY FINDINGS OF THE 2004-2005
PIECP COMPLIANCE ASSESSMENTS

January 24, 2006

Prepared By:
Barbara J. Auerbach
PIECP Technical Coordinator
National Correctional Industries Association, Inc.
Edited By:
Gwyn Smith Ingley
Executive Director
National Correctional Industries Association, Inc.

Prepared under Grant No. 2005-DD-BX-K155
Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP) Training and Technical Assistance Project
United States Department of Justice
Bureau of Justice Assistance

SUMMARY FINDINGS OF THE 2004-2005
PRISON INDUSTRY ENHANCEMENT CERTIFICATION PROGRAM (PIECP)
COMPLIANCE ASSESSMENTS
BACKGROUND
As stated in the 2004-2005 PIECP Assessment Training Guide prepared for the Bureau of Justice
Assistance (BJA) by the National Correctional Industries Association (NCIA), "The PIECP
assessment process was developed to provide BJA with sufficient information to assure that all
PIECP activities are in compliance with the program's underlying statutory and administrative
requirements." NCIA has performed this function for BJA since 1995, completing four
assessment cycles prior to the current cycle.
Preparation for the fifth round of assessments began in August 2003 with a debriefing session for
assessors and independent observers who had completed the 2002-2003 round of assessments.
Then in December 2003, the PIECP assessment working group1 met in Baltimore to revise and
improve training techniques, to determine which cost accounting centers (CACs)2 to assess, and
to begin to make necessary changes to the assessment materials and protocol. The working
group met again in February, March and May 2004 to upgrade and finalize materials for use in
this round of assessments. Assessment instruments were field tested in Indiana in July 2004.
Also held that same month in Chicago, Illinois, was training for new PIECP administrators and
first-time assessors on "PIE 101", plus an “Orientation to the Correctional Environment” for new
Independent Observers (IOs).
Training for assessors, co-assessors, independent observers, and Certificate Holders to be
assessed was conducted in Minneapolis in September 2004. The entire training approach was
modified in an effort to include more "hands on" experience for assessors and independent
observers. For the first time, on-site training was conducted inside a medium security prison so
that participants could interact with actual PIECP operations and workers. Significant changes to
the content of assessment materials were made as well with increasing emphasis on PIECP wage
requirements – still the most complicated of the compliance requirements to assess.
The assessments were conducted between November 2004 and March 2005. Assessments were
of two types – on-site assessments where an assessment team travels to the CAC and observes
the operation first-hand, and desk assessments, where the assessor reviews financial and other
documents but does not actually see the work being performed on-site.

1

PIECP practitioners from Texas, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee and Idaho (Robert Carter, Brian Connett,
Becky Gillam, Patsy Grooms, and Lynn McAuley-retired), along with consultants Dr. Patrick Henry, Dr.
Cindy Smith, Lenny Ewell, Barbara Auerbach and NCIA employees Gwyn Smith Ingley, Sahra Nadiir and
Lizzie Condon.
2

Compliance assessments were organized by cost account centers or CACs, the term BJA uses to
identify each separate PIECP operation. Financial and other records are kept by CAC as well.

2

THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS
The 2004-2005 PIECP assessments had several key features:
‰

For "new" CACs (those designated after the initiation of the prior assessment cycle,
falling between 10/1/02 and before 9/1/04), a significant part of the assessment process
was completed at NCIA headquarters. All information already collected at NCIA
headquarters which is not time-sensitive was reviewed in-house for all CACs that had not
previously been reviewed.

‰

Only CACs that were desk assessed during the 2002-2003 assessment cycle, those
designated after the time of the last assessment cycle, CACs for which compliancerelated issues arose during the 2002 assessment cycle, and those with piece work wage
systems, were reviewed on-site. All other CACs were assessed using NCIA’s desk
assessment process.

‰
‰

An Assessment Resource Board was available to provide support to the desk assessor.3
One experienced assessor acted as the team leader for each on-site assessment.
Individuals who had not conducted an assessment in the past, and who wished to be
trained for future assessments, were assigned as co-assessors. Co-assessors participated in
all aspects of the assessment process. An independent observer who would report
separately to BJA on the integrity, objectivity and thoroughness of the process was part
of each on-site assessment team.
As much information as possible was provided to the team prior to the assessment visit.
NCIA provided a summary of the documents it had already reviewed and the Certificate
Holder provided current information on wages, deductions, benefits, and voluntary
participation on all CACs to be assessed. Thus, the teams arrived on-site already familiar
with the CACs to be reviewed and ready to gather the additional information necessary to
make a compliance recommendation to BJA.

‰

As much as possible, NCIA personnel, the assessor, and/or the desk assessor utilized
email to transfer information among the parties to the assessment. All of NCIA’s 20042005 assessment materials were created in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel so that
all parties could easily manipulate the information necessary to complete the assessment.
Assessment materials also were available on NCIA’s website: www.nationalcia.org.

‰

On-site time was devoted as much as possible to those tasks which could only be
performed on-site – interviews, records verification, visual observation of worker job
tasks, processes and environmental impact.

3

Robert Carter (Texas), Brian Connett (Florida), Becky Gillam (Indiana), Patsy Grooms (Tennessee), and
Lynn McAuley (retired, Idaho). All served as members of NCIA’s Assessment Working Group.

3

SCOPE OF THE ASSESSMENT PROCESS
As of September 1, 2004 (the cutoff date for inclusion in this round of assessments), there were
30 jurisdictions with active PIECP operations.4 Of those, three (3) jurisdictions had desk
assessments only (Connecticut, North Dakota, and Virginia). Eleven (11) jurisdictions had both
site and desk assessments (Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska,
Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, and Texas). Thirteen (13) jurisdictions had on-site assessments
only (Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina,
Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah County, Utah, and Wyoming). Through NCIA, BJA conducted a
combination of 24 on-site assessments and 14 desk assessments, plus two (2) special on-site
assessments for jurisdictions with unusual circumstances,5 for a total of 137 CACs assessed.
Assessment participants included 24 experienced assessors, 20 new co-assessors, and 11
independent observers. Sahra Nadiir, NCIA's PIECP Grant Coordinator, managed the
assessment process and follow-up technical assistance. She was aided by Lizzie Condon,
NCIA’s PIECP Grant Assistant. Mr. Lenny Ewell, NCIA's PIECP Desk Assessor/Consultant,
assisted NCIA by performing the in-house document reviews as well as the desk assessments;
Patrick Henry, Ph.D., Eckerd College, NCIA's PIECP IO Coordinator/Consultant, managed the
independent observer process. Ms. Barbara Auerbach, NCIA's PIECP Technical Coordinator,
reviewed all draft assessment reports in concert with NCIA and drafted compliance plans in
conjunction with the assessors and BJA.

4

There were 9 inactive Certificate Holders as of 9/1/04 including: Alaska, Belknap County (NH),
Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Vermont, Washington, Washington State Jail Industries Board and
Wisconsin.
5
Washington State's PIECP program had been deemed unconstitutional by the Washington State
Supreme Court and the Department of Corrections requested an on-site examination of its PIECP records
as part of its close out procedures even though its operations were inactive. South Dakota had been
scheduled for a desk assessment only, but complications arose with obtaining required documentation
which necessitated an on-site visit; no inmate interviews were conducted.

4

PIECP ON-SITE ASSESSMENT TEAMS 2004-2005
Certificate Holder

Assessor

Co-Assessor

Independent Observer

1. Arizona

Judy Chapman

Dennis Gilbertson

Joe Trpik

2. California

Alan James

Scott Anderson;
Terry Martin
Dawn Mattson;
Kevin Simondet

Joe Trpik

Kevin Keck

Morgan Reynolds

3. Colorado

Shannon Davis

Kevin Keck

Debra Stanley

4. Florida

Giles Spaulding;
Connie Simon

Scott Gilmore

Ken Bensimon

5. Iowa

Tony Ellis

---

Ken Bensimon

6. Idaho

Bob Carter

Sahra Nadiir;
Laura Skager

Phyllis Cooney

7. Indiana*
Lynn McAuley
*also used as test site for instruments & protocol

Lenny Ewell;
Patsy Grooms;
Lizzie Condon

Patrick Henry

8. Kansas

Bob Carter

Steve Martinez

Steve Strawn

9. Louisiana

Bruce Farley

---

Morgan Reynolds

10. Maine

Angel Ybarra

Dawn Mattson

Bob Huckabee

11. Maryland

Lee Bond

Chris Davis

Tom Petersik

12. Minnesota

Lynn McAuley

Dennis Fracassi

Fred Mantooth

13. Mississippi

Chris Faulhaber

Mike Savala

Phyllis Cooney

14. North Carolina

Brian Connett

Mike Grimes

Tom Petersik

15. Nebraska

Jerry Campbell

Ray Allen

Kimberley Garth-Lewis

16. Nevada

Judy Chapman

Denise Ehlenz

Tom Petersik

17. Oklahoma

Bob Carter

---

Morgan Reynolds

18. Oregon

Brian Connett

Lizzie Condon

Tom Petersik

5

19. S. Carolina

Lynn McAuley

Robin Knab

Kimberley Garth-Lewis

20. Tennessee

Bert Senning

Hisako Yoshikawa

Steve Strawn

21. Texas

Richard Selapak

Lizzie Condon

Bob Huckabee

22. Utah County

Patsy Grooms

Randy Lee

Debra Stanley

23. Utah

Patsy Grooms

Randy Lee

Debra Stanley

24. Wyoming

Lee Bond

---

Tom Petersik

Assessment teams were composed of an experienced trained assessor (a correctional industries
professional) who could make reasoned compliance/non-compliance recommendations to BJA; a
co-assessor (also a correctional industries professional in most cases) who would assist the
assessor and observe the process in preparation for future assessments; and an independent
observer (academics, business, government and other professionals) who would report to BJA
independently about the integrity of the assessment process. They were also asked to note
positive aspects of industry operations that contribute to success and negative aspects that detract
from success. NCIA staff and consultants provided a variety of logistical, substantive and
technical support services to the teams.
The assessment process itself was relatively straightforward:
‰

First, NCIA staff created an accurate list of all CACs active as of October 1, 2002,
the initial start date for the selection period for this assessment round.

‰

Next, for each CAC, documentation on file at NCIA headquarters, which had
been submitted as part of the certification process or at the time of designation,
was reviewed for completeness. In some cases, missing information was supplied
by the Certificate Holder to enable NCIA to complete its review. Through this
process, all active CACs were determined to be in compliance as to the five non
time-sensitive criteria (eligibility, displacement, consultation with labor,
consultation with private industry, and NEPA at the time of designation). The
results of the file review were forwarded to the assessment teams for inclusion in
their assessment reports.

‰

Certificate Holders were then asked to provide NCIA with current (time-sensitive)
information (covering wages, deductions, benefits, and voluntary participation
information) for each active CAC. That information also was forwarded to the
assessment team in advance of the site visit.

‰

Next, the on-site visits were conducted. Because the teams had familiarized
themselves with the relevant documents and information before the visit, they
were able to use the site visit to "fill in the blanks," re-examine the tentative

6

conclusions made in advance of the visit, and observe specific aspects of the
program firsthand. Assessors interviewed department of corrections officials,
correctional industries representatives, a random sample of inmate workers, and in
some cases, private sector partners. Visual observations and random sampling of
payroll and other data helped the assessors to complete their understanding of
PIECP compliance and related activities at the site. The independent observers
also arrived prepared to understand what they were observing, again due to the
provision of relevant background information prior to the visit.
‰

When they returned home, the assessors prepared a draft compliance report and
emailed it to the PIECP Technical Coordinator for review. Once approved, the
draft reports were sent to the PIECP Managers in each jurisdiction who could
respond either by agreeing with the draft report or by contesting any of its
findings. In those cases where non-compliance was found, a compliance plan was
drafted and implemented. Final reports were sent to the Certificate Holder, BJA,
and team members.

‰

Simultaneously, the independent observers prepared reports which were first
reviewed by the Independent Observer Coordinator and then forwarded directly to
BJA. At the close of the process, those reports will be forwarded to team
members and to the Certificate Holder as well as to BJA.

‰

The desk assessment process (used for CACs which had been assessed in prior
cycles without issue) used the same set of procedures, with the exception of the
site visit. NCIA's Desk Assessor sent his assessment reports to the on-site
assessors in cases where PIECP Certificate Holders were receiving a combination
of on-site and desk assessments. In instances where only a desk assessment was
performed, the desk assessment was sent directly to the PIECP Manager in each
jurisdiction.

For each Certificate Holder:
• Program performance was compared against statutory and administrative requirements for
participation in the PIECP.
• Random testing was performed to verify that prevailing wages were actually being paid to
PIECP inmate workers.
• A visual confirmation that inmate workers were performing within their job descriptions was
made.
• Supporting documentation from the State economic security agency for prevailing wage and
non-displacement determinations was reviewed and verified.
• Deductions for various taxes, room and board, victims' compensation, and family support
were examined and verified as well.
• The existence of Workers' Compensation insurance was verified by reviewing actual
Workers' Compensation insurance policies or their equivalent.
• The voluntary status of inmate workers was confirmed through interviews with inmate
workers and verification of relevant documents.

7

•
•

Consultation with organized labor and local private industry was verified through the review
of appropriate records.
Finally, ongoing compliance with the NEPA was verified through a visual check of the
physical circumstances of each CAC.

What follows is an issue-by-issue description of the findings of the assessment teams. A
summary of substantive findings as well as the processes and procedures developed for this
assessment round completes this report. All assessment instruments were developed in
cooperation with and approved by BJA. They are publicly available at
http://www.nationalcia.org/pieforms.html.
COMPLIANCE ASSESSMENT FINDINGS AND BJA DETERMINATIONS
1.

Eligibility

BJA's 1999 Guideline states that all departments of correction and juvenile justice agencies
authorized by law to administer correctional industry programs are eligible for PIECP
certification. Once certification is awarded, the Certificate Holder must determine which
specific operations should be included under the PIECP. All production operations, where a
non-agricultural commodity/product is produced for sale to the for-profit sector on the open
market and the product moves in interstate commerce, must be designated under the PIECP.
Additional enterprises may be included at the Certificate Holder's discretion. Once included, all
PIECP mandatory requirements must be met for all Cost Accounting Centers.
Findings:
This element was reviewed and verified for all CHs at NCIA headquarters as part of the
document file review that preceded the site visits and desk assessments. Eligibility documents
for all CACs were compiled and reviewed and all CACs were found to be in full compliance.
2.

Inmate Worker Wages

The PIECP statute requires that inmate workers be paid "at a rate which is not less than that paid
for work of a similar nature in the locality in which the work is performed." BJA's
administrative Guideline sets out procedures for determining the appropriate wage under various
conditions. The Guideline expressly states that wage determinations must be made by State
department of economic security (DES) agencies.
Findings:
Again this cycle, wages were the single most complex requirement for PIECP Certificate
Holders to implement. NCIA requested two separate payrolls for each CAC it assessed, thus
providing the assessors with a more complete picture of wage practices over time. Thirteen (13)
of the 24 jurisdictions assessed had wage issues of some kind, almost twice as many as were
found during the last assessment cycle. However, most of the wage issues were relatively minor

8

and the result of error or a misunderstanding of PIECP wage requirements. All but two have
been resolved as of this writing.
Job Descriptions Inaccurate or Inadequate
Given that all State economic security agencies now provide wage data to PIECP Certificate
Holders based upon standard occupational classification (SOC) codes, job descriptions submitted
to those agencies by PIECP managers are the key to accurate wage setting. Most Certificate
Holders have been successful at accurately describing the work being done in their CACs, but a
few continue to struggle with this issue.
In five jurisdictions, workers were lumped under one broad job description (SOC Code) that did
not accurately describe the work actually being performed by all of the inmates involved. As a
result, machinery operators, for example, were being paid less than they would have been paid if
they were separately identified and classified. All five jurisdictions have remedied the problem
by creating accurate job descriptions and paying back wages where necessary.
Conversely, in two jurisdictions when the DES was asked to determine the appropriate SOC
code for some specific functions, wages were revised downward when it was learned that the
inmate worker did not perform all of the tasks normally performed under that job description.
Training Wage Misunderstood or Misused
There is confusion among Certificate Holders about whether or not a "training wage" is
acceptable and, if so, how that wage should be determined. BJA has been consistent in stating
that it does not have the authority to make this determination and that it is a matter for
determination by the DES agency. While a number of jurisdictions now have implemented
training wages at a rate that is less than the entry level wage, such plans are acceptable to BJA
only if they are explicitly approved by the state DES agency and at no time fall below the
Federal minimum wage.
This assessment round revealed that two jurisdictions had implemented training wages below the
lowest percentile determined by their DES agency (usually the 10th percentile wage) without
approval of the DES agency. This practice does not meet compliance requirements and the
jurisdictions in question remedied the problem by revising their training wage approach and, if
necessary, paying back wages to the inmates involved. In another jurisdiction, back wages were
paid when it was discovered that a small number of inmates had exceeded the allowable number
of hours at the training wage.
Annual Wage Updates Not Requested or Not Implemented
In most cases annual wage updates were obtained and implemented in a timely fashion. Even
though BJA's Guideline is clear that wage rates must be updated through the state DES on an
annual basis, some jurisdictions allowed this requirement to lapse. Additionally, some
jurisdictions which asked for and received updated wage information failed to implement the
necessary changes on or before the anniversary date of the last wage update.

9

In three jurisdictions, the Certificate Holder did not implement the annual wage update requested
of and received by the DES agency. All have now remedied the problem by implementing the
appropriate wage range and paying back wages.
Piece Work Rates Misunderstood
In one jurisdiction, wage issues stemming from the complex nature of piece work in a PIECP
operation were identified. Workers were not meeting the incentive bonus and were not aware of
how they could do so; some non-production workers (such as clerks and janitors) were being
paid on an incentive basis and had overtime based upon $5.15, not the DES identified wage for
their positions. These issues have now been remedied through the payment of back wages and
the creation of a new pay plan.
Other Issues
Other issues included incentive pay plans that referenced industry-wide occupational standards
without sources; workers excluded from PIECP wages on the assumption they were not
performing "notable tasks"; payroll records that did not track whether an inmate had worked
more than 40 hours in a week; and unpaid overtime. All of these issues have now been
remedied.
3.

Displacement

The PIECP statute requires that a PIECP project not "result in the displacement of employed
workers, or be applied in skills, crafts, or trades where there is a surplus of available gainful
labor in the locality, or impair existing contracts for services." The 1999 Guideline repeats this
same language, stating that the State department of economic security must verify that the
proposed PIECP project will not displace employed workers. In addition, the private sector
company involved must provide a written statement that it will not displace its own workers in
favor of PIECP inmates. A definition of displacement is provided in the Guideline that includes
all the prohibited activities noted above, as well as the inappropriate transfer of private sector job
functions to PIECP inmates.
Findings:
This element was reviewed and verified for all CHs at NCIA headquarters as part of the
document file review that preceded the site visits and desk assessments. Displacement
documents for all CACs were compiled and reviewed and all CACs were found to be in full
compliance at the time of certification. Annual wage re-verifications also take displacement into
consideration.
4.

Benefits

Federal law requires that PIECP workers "have not solely by their status as offenders been
deprived of the right to participate in benefits made available by the Federal and State

10

government to other individuals on the basis of their employment, such as workmen's
compensation." BJA's 1999 Guideline states that workers' compensation, and under certain
circumstances (that is, for employer model projects where the inmate works directly for the
private sector company), Social Security (FICA) must be provided to PIECP inmate workers.
Findings:
Workers' Compensation: There were no workers' compensation issues reported by the
assessment teams this cycle.
FICA: All employer model projects were found to be covering their PIECP workers under
FICA, as is required by the PIECP Guideline.
5.

Deductions

Federal law provides that "wages may be subject to deductions which shall not, in the aggregate,
exceed 80 per centum of gross wages, and shall be limited as follows: (a) taxes; (b) reasonable
charges for room and board as determined by regulations which shall be issued by the chief State
correctional officer; (c) allocations for support of family pursuant to State statute, court order, or
agreement by the offender; (d) contributions to any fund established by law to compensate the
victims of crime of not more than 20 per centum but not less than 5 per centum of gross wages."
BJA's 1999 administrative Guideline makes it clear that participating CACs are not required to
take deductions from PIECP inmate wages. However, some deductions may be required under
other Federal statutes, such as the Internal Revenue Code.
Findings:
In one jurisdiction a question arose when it was learned that child support orders were being
deducted solely from the inmate's 20% remainder, on the rationale that this was a legal fine and
as such could be deducted from the inmate's net wage. Upon further discussion it became clear
that in this jurisdiction the room and board deduction operates on a sliding scale, depending upon
the inmates' other deductions. BJA recognized that its Guideline is not specific as to the
sequence of deductions and that this jurisdiction had made a reasonable assumption in
determining its deductions policies.
No other deductions issues were found.
6.

Voluntary Participation

Federal law requires that inmates "have participated in such employment voluntarily and have
agreed in advance to the specific deductions made from gross wages pursuant to this section, and
all other financial arrangements as a result of participation in such employment."
Findings:

11

All Certificate Holders had signed voluntary forms on file for all CACs. In two cases the forms
were dated after the shop had begun operations. In both jurisdictions procedures have been
revised to ensure that inmates agree to deductions and volunteer for employment in any CAC
prior to the commencement of operations. In a small number of cases Certificate Holders were
advised to revise their voluntary participation forms to include more specific deduction
information.
7.

Consultation with Organized Labor

Federal law requires that representatives of local union central bodies or similar labor union
organizations have been consulted prior to the initiation of any project qualifying for any
exemption created by this section. The 1999 Guideline expands the consultation requirement
slightly by asking the Certificate Holder to contact all relevant unions, not just a single union
which may or may not be the most directly involved in the production of items similar to those
produced in a PIECP CAC. In addition, if there is no local labor union, the State organization
must be informed in its stead.
Findings:
This mandatory criterion is among those reviewed by NCIA as part of the in-house file review of
all CHs preceding the site visit and/or the desk assessment. No problems in consulting with
organized labor were found as a result of the file review relating to the time of CAC designation,
and no problems were found as a result of the on-site visits or the desk assessments. Certificate
Holders either sent letters to the relevant unions or had written records of advisory board
meetings where organized labor was represented.
8.

Consultation with Local Private Industry

BJA's 1999 administrative Guideline states that applicants must consult with representatives of
local businesses that may be economically impacted by CAC production prior to beginning
operations and lays out minimum criteria for that consultation.
Findings:
This mandatory criterion is among those reviewed by NCIA as part of the in-house file review of
all CHs preceding the site visit and/or the desk assessment. No problems in consulting with local
private industry were found as a result of the file review relating to the time of CAC designation,
and no problems were found as a result of the on-site visits or the desk assessments. All
jurisdictions either sent letters to the local chamber of commerce or included representatives of
local private industry on a correctional industries advisory board. Some jurisdictions did both.
In a small number of cases, the department of corrections publishes its intentions to initiate a
new PIECP CAC in a local newspaper.
9.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

12

BJA's 1999 Guideline requires that all PIECP CACs must comply with NEPA and other related
Federal environmental review requirements. Certificate Holders submit a request for BJA
approval at the time they designate each CAC and BJA approves or disapproves the request at
that time. The function of the assessment team, therefore, is to visually verify that the CAC is
producing its products in the manner provided in the NEPA description provided to BJA at the
time of designation of the CAC, and that no significant changes in production process or location
have taken place since the time of the original approval.
Findings:
This mandatory criterion is among those reviewed by NCIA as part of the in-house file review of
all CHs preceding the site visit and/or the desk assessment. No NEPA issues were found as a
result of the file review relating to the time of CAC designation. One jurisdiction was
questioned by the assessor on a particular matter, but it was resolved when the appropriate state
agencies determined that no issue existed. No other issues were found as a result of visual
observations made or questions asked during the on-site visits.
SUMMARY
Substantive Findings
Twenty-four (24) active jurisdictions were assessed and 13 non-compliance recommendations
were made to BJA by the assessment teams. Of the 13, most were the result of a
misunderstanding of PIECP requirements and were resolved relatively easily. Two remained
open, both of which involved wages. In those two cases, a 60-day time limit for reaching
compliance was provided by BJA and both successfully remedied the matters.
Predictably, wages remained the most problematic area for PIECP managers. The role of job
descriptions and SOC codes dramatically increased in importance during this assessment cycle
due to the advances in wage data collection techniques experienced by all State DES agencies.
Today, all states display wage data by SOC codes and wage data are universally available on the
Internet. Certificate Holders and their private sector partners no longer receive the tailored wage
determinations they had been receiving in the past, and as a result, some PIECP managers feel
that wage determinations are less accurate.
Problems in wage setting for PIECP CACs no longer stem from the lack of available data, but
from the potential lack of appropriateness of that data. In some cases, there is no available data
for the geographic area where the CAC is located (often a rural area where wages could be
expected to be lower than in the state's industrialized and urban centers) and CACs are forced to
use data from a larger area than they feel is appropriate. In other cases, PIECP workers do not
perform all the tasks associated with a given SOC code, either because security measures prevent
them from doing so or because they are not trained or experienced enough to do so. Certificate
Holders may be required to pay inmate wages comparable to non-inmate wages when the inmate
workers are not performing comparable tasks.

13

As noted above, one response to the wage pressures CAC operators experience is to develop
training wage plans at lower wage levels, sometimes with DES approval (as required by BJA),
and sometimes without consulting either BJA or the State DES agency. BJA has stated that it
will accept the decision of the state DES agency as to training wages, but that without DES
approval, it will find such practices out of compliance with PIECP requirements. All instances
of this form of non-compliance were resolved during this round of assessments. However, it is
clear that state DES agencies do not believe they have the power to grant exemptions to state
wage requirements either, and that there is a need to review PIECP wage policies with the aim of
finding a more equitable solution.
Another response is to ignore or delay annual wage updates or to create amorphous job
descriptions that include all of the workers in a CAC. Assessors found increased instances of
these responses compared to the last assessment cycle.
The move to the Internet as the source of wage data also means that PIECP managers must make
a decision as to what wage level equates with BJA's requirement of comparability in wages.
Some jurisdictions use only 25%, 50% and 75% benchmarks; most present a range extending
from the 10th to the 90th percentile. BJA has for some years accepted either approach as a
reasonable entry point for PIECP inmate workers, relying on the State DES to make this
decision. The variability in what constitutes comparability, however, concerns some PIECP
managers who sense there may be inconsistencies in the availability of receiving the lowest wage
possible for their private sector partners. Some jurisdictions continue to argue that they should
be allowed to enter at the Federal Minimum Wage.
Overall, it appears that PIECP managers make a strong effort to comply with the PIECP
Guideline and that they have responded positively to assessment findings by making the
necessary corrections without hesitation. This assessment round, several of the issues prevalent
during the 2002-2003 round had disappeared. For example, there were no "split wage" issues
discovered during this assessment round. Piece work issues had largely disappeared as well,
though this remains an area of confusion for some. There were no Workers' Compensation
issues, a noticeable improvement over the last assessment round.
Several factors contribute to this improved performance. Assessment training itself provides an
enhanced understanding of the PIECP mandatory criteria and therefore leads to improved
performance. The experience of assessing CACs in their jurisdictions--the chance to see first
hand how other PIECP programs operate--is described as extremely valuable by almost every
assessor. The need to fully understand PIECP mandatory criteria so as to make careful
compliance recommendations to BJA about other jurisdictions strengthens performance at home.
Just preparing for an assessment causes PIECP managers to review their own policies and
practices and to make necessary adjustments in their own operations.
On the other hand, challenges to the PIECP Guideline continue to occur. Wage issues in
particular do not go away. PIECP Certificate Holders seem to fall into two distinct groups – the
majority who follow the intent of the PIECP legislation by working with their State DES
agencies to accurately identify the appropriate wage range for the work being performed, and the

14

few who work with their State wage setting agencies to obtain the lowest possible wage
determinations regardless of the work performed.
Processes and Procedures
As was true during the last assessment cycle, the in-house review of non time-sensitive materials
significantly lessened the paperwork burden on assessors, co-assessors, and independent
observers, and increased the freedom the assessment teams had to observe critical factors while
on-site. The use of the in-house file review was a logical step, given the repetitive nature of the
assessment process approximately every two years. Nonetheless, its impact was even more
positive than the assessment teams and NCIA had anticipated. Coupled with the new desk
assessments, it allowed for a more efficient and more workable experience across the board.
A much improved training curriculum resulted in better trained assessment teams and a more
thorough job on-site as well. Teams were trained in advance in a mock assessment on-site at a
Minnesota prison, and as a result were more likely to recognize potential compliance violations
when they saw them in the field.
The use of desk assessments was key to the success of this assessment round. Approximately
one-third of the total number of CACs were desk assessed, providing BJA with a cost-effective
look at its problem-free CACs.
The complex nature of PIECP requirements, coupled with high turnover among PIECP
managers, creates the ongoing potential for non-compliance among PIECP CACs. Clearly, there
is a need for regular review of operations so that BJA can continue to evolve its policies to meet
the changing needs of its Certificate Holders. PIECP assessments are the logical vehicle to
achieve that end. As of this writing, it appears that funding limitations at BJA will curtail the
practice of performing broad and in-depth full-scale on-site assessments on a 24-month cycle.
That being the case, lessons learned during this assessment cycle should be reviewed and
incorporated into whatever new approach BJA develops to ensure that its PIECP Certificate
Holders continue to meet all mandatory requirements.

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