DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS: DIVESTITURE OF ORGANIZATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE DELIVERY OF INTERNAL SERVICES

1-A
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS:
DIVESTITURE OF ORGANIZATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
FOR THE DELIVERY OF INTERNAL SERVICES
Problem Identification:
As a provider of services to both Baltimore’s citizens and its municipal government, the Department of Public Works (DPW) is currently required to divide its service and management efforts between two vastly different sets of clientele. The inclusion of internal service functions such as fleet management and building services within the current organization of DPW constrains efforts to reduce the costs of providing these services and prevents the DPW from achieving singular focus on the public’s service needs.

Recommended Action:
Extract the Bureau of General Services from DPW and reconstitute its internal service functions in a newly formed Department of General Services.

Classification:
Cost Savings, Organizational, Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:
Bureau of General Services

Estimated Annual Impact:
$6,000,000 – $9,000,000 (this estimated impact is inclusive of the subsidiary recommendations found under core Recommendations 3, 4, and 5)

Estimated Implementation Costs:
None

Barriers to Implementation:
None

Projected Implementation:
180 days – 1 year given the size and scope of the recommended reorganization of functions

Next Steps:
Take the necessary administrative steps to create a new department, transfer appropriate budgetary resources and operational responsibilities, and establish formal service agreements with client departments that consume internally provided services.

Analysis:
With an annual level of funding that approaches a half a billion dollars and nearly 5,600 budgeted positions, the Department of Public Works represents a municipal conglomerate that provides an almost unimaginable range of services that have a daily impact on the lives of every person that lives in, works or visits Baltimore.

Given DPW’s tremendous size, members of the project team expended a considerable amount of effort reviewing the range and scope of services currently provided, the distribution of functions across the Department’s four bureaus, and the service impacts that result from vesting one organizational entity with such a breadth of financial, operational, and service responsibilities.

DPW’s Bureau of General Services is tasked with operating and maintaining a portfolio of more than 400 buildings and upwards of 6,000 vehicles. Many of these assets are underutilized, while others are in various conditions of disrepair. The financial and operational demands associated with trying to maintain these assets have become increasingly difficult as the Department struggles to stretch its limited resources.

In the face of current and foreseeable City budgetary deficits, these trends seem destined to continue. A method of reversing these trends, within current budgetary constraints, is needed, as significant increases in available financial resources are unlikely. To address these issues, there exists a need to adopt new paradigms to promote the more efficient and effective management of these internally managed assets and related services.

City buildings and the municipal fleet need to be more effectively managed. This necessitates not only the achievement of productivity improvements, but requires reductions manifest in less need for building space, vehicles, and the support costs associated with providing those services. Improving the management of the City’s automotive fleet and real estate assets are two of the overarching core recommendations of this report. Recommendations 3-A through 3-J and 4-A through 4-C address specific strategies to achieve improvements in these areas, but the implementation of those recommendations could be best accomplished with a new organizational entity that is singularly focused on providing high quality internal services at the lowest possible cost.

While DPW’s sheer organizational size dictates that it consumes the most internal services, it dual role as a provider and a consumer of services creates a situation where the service needs of other City departments’departments no less reliant on these internal services than DPW’can be shortchanged. An ancillary benefit of divesting internal service responsibilities from DPW is that DPW can then focus its undivided attentions on the management and delivery of services consumed by the public (solid waste and recycling collections, street cleaning, water and wastewater management, highway repairs, snow removal, etc.).