Local & Regional
3:53 pm
Thu April 7, 2011

Public Works To Be Restructured

Tulsa, OK – Mayor Dewey Bartlett announced today a plan for restructuring the functions and services performed by the Tulsa Public Works Department in order to improve efficiency.

The Public Works Department is the largest in the City of Tulsa, with approximately 1,400 employees. It represents more than 30 percent of both personnel and budgetary resources. Its current management structure includes a Director, three deputy directors over Environmental Operations, Public Facilities and Engineering Services divisions, and an assistant director over Policy Administration. Under the plan, the Department will be divided into three new departments: Engineering Services, Streets & Public Facilities, and Water & Wastewater. The target date for the reorganization is July 1, the beginning Fiscal Year 2012. This will mark the first restructuring of the Public Works Department since its creation in 1990.

Mayor Bartlett said the KPMG business study recommended a return to core services, especially with respect to street maintenance. An independent audit conducted by EMA about two years ago also recommended strengthening the street maintenance program. A recent citizen survey confirmed that streets are a priority issue for Tulsans, and this reorganization will put more focus on street maintenance, Mayor Bartlett said. The restructuring also places emphasis on water and wastewater services and project engineering and contract management - also core services of great interest to citizens.

"With Public Works Director Charles Hardt's retirement, implementation of the KPMG recommendations through the Management Review Office, and the citizen survey results, it was the right time to further evaluate the core functions and non-core services of the Department, and a good opportunity to streamline the operations by creating smaller departments that are able to respond more quickly and efficiently to customers," Bartlett said. "This change will make it easier for the public to identify and access Public Works services and programs.

Non-core services provided by Public Works for its internal customer will be reassigned to other Departments. Under the current structure, Public Works is responsible for significant levels of administrative and operation support functions, including human resources, contracting, customer utility billing and collections, and financial services. Those services will be moved to the Departments of Human Resources and Finance, and citizen response/call center operations will be moved to the Mayor's Action Center.

"We have drafted a plan that creates three, new departments based on the core functions each perform. The four divisions led by the Public Works deputy directors would no longer exist under this plan. Job descriptions for the new department directors will be created and posted internally per our employment process," Bartlett said.

Functions and responsibilities have been preliminarily assigned to the three new departments, however, the appropriate placement of core functions management is still in discussion with Public Works management.

Some of the benefits for initiating this organizational change include:

- The three distinct departments will provide a streamlined, accountable structure for the provision of their core services. Each department will be able to concentrate on its primary line of business, while at the same time coordinate and cooperate as needed on joint projects.

- The new structure will be more easily understood and accessible to employees, city officials and our customers, the citizens of Tulsa.

- Creating smaller units will allow each to be more responsive and able to change and adapt as needed, as well as improve the ability of the administration to oversee each department's performance and responsibilities.

- The change will remove levels of hierarchy and bureaucracy that can slow decision making and response.

- Sending non-core functions to appropriate departments will provide more consistent and enhanced city wide provision of these services.

"Our citizen survey and our KPMG study showed that core functions within Public Works are some of the most important to our citizens, and our goal is continuous improvement in our systems and processes," Bartlett said. "We are addressing the recommendations of KPMG and results of the citizen survey through this plan."

Prior to July 1, the Mayor's Transportation & Infrastructure Director Jeff Mulder will continue to work with the four Public Works deputy directors to assist during this interim period and in the development of the new departments.