|The General Services Agency Director personally manages 10 staff, including one mid-level manager, and 9 individuals who have supervisory or lead responsibility in a Department with 51.5 employees. Although the Director is assisted with many administrative responsibilities by the Department’s Project Manager, he takes direct responsibility for personnel matters, all major contract negotiations, and many of the more complex analytical tasks required to support the Department. Further, the GSA Director acts as the principal liaison with the Board of Supervisors and other elected officials, and with department heads. The management structure of the Agency could be redesigned so that the Director retains strong fiduciary and oversight responsibility, while reducing his direct reports and more logically grouping related activities.|
The Amador County General Services Agency Director manages 50.5 FTE positions dispersed among nine principal functions.2 In addition, the Director is responsible for managing the contract for Airport operations, managing the contract for Public Defender services, negotiating for and acquiring real property for the County, and maintaining and managing parks and community centers owned by the County. To assist the Director with these duties, ten of the 50.5 County employees and two contractors serve as working supervisors or lead workers within the organization. This organization structure is displayed in Exhibit 1 on Page 7.
In addition to his general management responsibilities, the Director retains direct authority over all liaison functions with the Board of Supervisors and other County managers, performs most analysis and management reporting to the Board, reviews and approves all County grant applications, directly manages all proposal solicitation and contract negotiation activities, and directly hires and disciplines all staff.
The Project Manager who is in charge of the minor construction and building maintenance functions3 for the Department also serves informally as the assistant director of the Department. According to the Director and this individual, these duties include working with the Director on analysis and presentation of materials to the Board of Supervisors, supervising staff, providing support during property acquisition negotiations, and managing all construction projects for the County. On major construction projects, the Project Manager conducts all planning functions and manages engineers, architects and building contractors retained by the County. Although organizationally responsible for minor facility repairs and custodial services, this individual is assisted by the Chief of Building Maintenance who acts as a working supervisor over building maintenance and custodial personnel.
Similarly, the Administrative Support Supervisor is organizationally responsible for Purchasing, Mail/Messenger and Printing Services within the Department, and provides administrative support for the County Motor Pool. However, she also serves informally as the Department’s fiscal officer, responsible for the preparation of the budget, all accounting and financial activities, as well as other administrative and support functions. With the exception of the Library Administrator, who manages 18 staff plus volunteers, other supervisory personnel essentially function as leads in their areas of responsibility.
The current GSA structure exhibits characteristics of an organization which has developed incrementally since established in 1981. As activities have been added by the Board of Supervisors, and core functions have become larger and more complex, the span of control and number of direct reports for the Director have broadened. This is partially demonstrated by the growth in the number of FTE positions during the 19 year period since the Department was formed.
As shown, the number of personnel allocated to GSA has grown by approximately 45 percent since the Department was formed in FY 1980-81. Although detailed records were not examined for this study, it is also evident that during the period prior to FY 1990-91 there were at least two major budget restructuring decisions which affected the organization of GSA.
Although the Director has delegated portions of his management responsibility to the Project Manager and Administrative Support Supervisor, he reportedly has retained significant responsibility over day-to-day operations. A review of historical budget data also suggests that several supervisor level positions have been added to the Department, and promotions of staff have been approved over the years. Aside from a promotion of a Special Projects Coordinator to Project Manager in FY 1999-00, little management restructuring has occurred.
In addition, based on interview statements made during this study, the Board of Supervisors has periodically assigned functions to the Department which do not necessarily “fit” with the more common functions of a General Services Agency. Perhaps the most apparent of these is the management responsibility GSA has been assigned over the contract for Public Defender services. However, other activities, such as the more recent assignment of the Records Retention function to GSA, are also less appropriate than others. During interviews, we were told that many of these decisions by the Board are made when the Board “isn’t sure where to assign things.” In addition, we were told that some of these decisions are made for personnel reasons rather than because they “make sense” organizationally.
To some extent, these types of seemingly random assignments are made because Amador County operates without a Chief Administrative Office. If a CAO existed in the County, then many of the functions that are inconsistent with GSA’s primary mission could be assigned to that office. The Board of Supervisors has been considering establishing a CAO during the past two years, but remains undecided. If the Board creates this office, certain GSA functions could be reassigned to the CAO.
Nonetheless, there are opportunities to restructure the General Services Agency, with its current assignment of functions, to accomplish the following general goals.
The rationale for each of these goals are discussed below.
Maintain Strong Director Control Over General Management Functions
Critical to the functioning of any organization is a strong administrative and financial capability which is closely linked to upper management’s strategic vision. In addition, the most common and frequent interaction between departments and the Board of Supervisors concerns the management of the departments’ budget, financial resources and staff. Further, all department managers have a significant fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers. Accordingly, it is critical that the Director of the General Services Agency have direct management control over budget, financial management and personnel matters within the Department.
Reduce The Number Of Direct Reports To The Director
As discussed previously, the Director presently has one manager, nine supervisors and leads, and two contract managers who report directly to him regarding the operations of GSA. Although many supervisors within the organization also function in a staff capacity, day-to-day decision-making is retained by the Director. This can create difficulties for managers when trying to balance attention between the immediate operational needs of a department and more strategic demands. Accordingly, an organization can be more effective, when approaching the size of GSA, if everyday operational needs are addressed by mid-level managers—leaving budget, finance, goal setting and strategic planning to upper management.
Logically Group Related Activities
Currently, GSA is task driven—that is, supervisors concern themselves primarily with accomplishing the specific tasks to which they are assigned. In many areas, there is little incentive for staff who are assigned to different functions to work cooperatively with one another or to work toward accomplishing broader goals. For example, we found during interviews that the supervisory personnel at the Library, Museum and County Archives have not considered alternative management strategies to more closely align their functions. By logically grouping related activities, the Department would be better able to identify opportunities for consolidating some functions and for strategically addressing customer wants and needs. This will be especially important in future years as the Department increases in size and, perhaps scope of responsibility.
Structural Incentives For Employee Advancement
In an organization the size of Amador County, there is little opportunity for employee advancement. Often, persons will work in a single job with the County for an entire career and will be afforded little opportunity for personal or professional growth. This creates at least two problems.
Accordingly, we developed an alternative organization structure for the General Services Agency which addresses each of these goals. It is discussed below.
Proposed Alternative To The Current Organization
A detailed comparison of GSA with other large County departments indicates that the Board of Supervisors has approved GSA staff to supervisor and staff to manager ratios that lag far behind the ratios in similar-size departments within the County. This is illustrated in the table below.
As shown, the average number of staff per supervisor for the four departments analyzed is 5.4 for FY 1999-00. This is significantly fewer than the 8.0 staff per supervisor authorized for GSA. In addition, GSA has one manager for every 24.8 staff, while the other departments range between one manager for each 10 staff and one manager for each 14 staff. The average for the other departments is one manager for each 12.2 staff, which is less than half the number of staff per manager assigned to GSA. To bring the GSA ratios within the range of the other large departments within the County, an additional two manager level positions and one supervisor level position would be required. We believe this is appropriate given the information collected during our review. Accordingly, we have developed an alternative organization structure which will provide the Department with the tools necessary to operate more efficiently and economically. This alternative organization structure is described below.
Director's Office - Under our proposed alternative organization structure, the Director would retain responsibility for budget and financial management functions within the Department, assisted by an accountant and existing clerical staff. Within the Director’s Office, the following general management functions would be performed.
Below the Director, there would be three divisions organized around broad service and customer groups. These would include:
Property Management - Property Management would include all activities related to property acquisition and development, construction management (major projects), construction services (minor projects), and building maintenance. Because the County’s Parks program essentially involves the management of parklands and the Memorial Hall, this function would also be assigned to the Property Management Division. In addition, Waste Management and Airports—which essentially involve contract management functions related to the operations of the County’s landfill site and airport property, would also be assigned to this division. There would be 10.8 FTE staff and two major contract functions placed in this division, plus the management of various contractors hired by the County for architecture, engineering and construction services on major development projects. Under this proposal, GSA would also be authorized a Special Projects Coordinator position to assist the existing Project Manager with Property Management duties and responsibilities.
Community Services - Community Services would combine those functions which are designed to provide direct services to the public. Largest among these is the County Library, with 18.0 employees and seven branch locations. However, also placed under this division would be the Museum and the County Archives, for total staffing of 20.5 employees plus many volunteers. Combining these services under one manager would permit the County to develop a more strategic approach to service delivery to the general public.
General Services - General Services would combine those functions which provide services to other County departments and other jurisdictions. Included would be Purchasing, Mail/Messenger, Printing, Records Retention, Information Systems (and Communications), and the Motor Pool. Because Public Defender responsibilities essentially entail management of the contract with the law firm which provides these services, the Public Defender contract would also be placed in this division as an extension of the Purchasing function.
Each of these divisions would be headed by a manager who would have significant day-to-day authority for operations. Staff would report directly to these managers, reducing direct reports to the Director from 12 (one manager, 9 supervisors/leads and 2 contract managers), to four (one accountant and three managers). With the Director, these individuals would comprise the management team of the Department.
The suggested organization structure is presented below.
Costs And Benefits Related To The Proposed Alternative Organization
With the increased management resources being proposed in this finding, there would be increased costs to the County. However, some of these increased costs would be offset by deleting certain positions which currently exist in the Department. The following points summarize our assumptions when developing an estimate of increased costs.
Based on these assumptions, the increased cost to the County for implementing this alternative organization structure would be approximately $94,301 per year, as shown in the table on the following page.
We believe this increased cost is appropriate for the following reasons.
Because the Department of General Services is responsible for over $5.2 million in operating costs annually, and has been budgeted to expend an additional $7.5 million for the acquisition and development of County property and buildings in FY 1999-2000, it is important that a management structure be developed which will ensure that assets are appropriately safeguarded, and services are efficiently and effectively delivered. Accordingly, we believe an additional expenditure of $94,301 based on FY 1999-2000 costs (or approximately 1.8% of the Department’s annual operating budget), is a fiscally responsible expenditure of funds by the County.
The General Services Agency Director personally manages 10 staff, including one mid-level manager, and 9 individuals who have supervisory or lead responsibility in a Department with 51.5 employees.
Although the Director is assisted with many administrative responsibilities by the Department’s Project Manager, he takes direct responsibility for personnel matters, all major contract negotiations, and many of the more complex analytical tasks required to support the Department. Further, the GSA Director acts as the principal liaison with the Board of Supervisors and other elected officials, and with department heads.
The management structure of the Agency could be redesigned so that the Director retains strong fiduciary and oversight responsibility, while reducing his direct reports and more logically grouping related activities.
The Grand Jury should:
The Board of Supervisors should:
COSTS AND BENEFITS
The proposed organizational changes will cost the County an additional $94,301 annually, based on FY 1999-2000 costs.
The General Services Agency will be better equipped to manage its resources, develop more strategic and customer focussed service delivery systems, recruit and retain mid-level management personnel, and more smoothly transition during periods of management change.