|Focusing on Core Public Works Functions by Creating New and More Effective Management Structures
|With an annual level of funding that approaches 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 impact daily 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.As a provider of services to both Baltimore’s citizens and its municipal government, 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 constrains efforts to reduce the costs of providing these services and prevents DPW from achieving singular focus on the public’s service needs.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. By extracting critical internal service functions from DPW and reconstituting these functions in a newly formed Department of General Services, the City can better focus its efforts to reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of internally provided services. 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.).
Additional strategies for improving the management of critical functions and services include integrating the management of the City’s parking-related functions and construction-related processes. The Administration’s already advancing efforts to consolidate parking-related functions within one organizational entity should improve the City’s ability to better manage Baltimore’s ever-demanding parking needs.
DPW counts among its numerous responsibilities the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of public streets, bridges, and highways in addition to the inspection and management of City construction projects. While this report includes recommendations designed to address some of the problems described above through the alignment or consolidation of complementary functions, the augmentation of staffing capacities, and the easing of administrative processes, the project team concluded that systemic problems exist in DPW’s approach to the management of construction-related processes and projects.
Currently, there is little integrated management of the construction-related process. Exchanges between Departmental units involved in the various processes are transactional rather than collaborative. Aside from causing unnecessary time delays, the lack of coordination and information sharing ultimately results in costly change orders that might have been avoided.
DPW needs to take a more consolidated approach to the financial management and project oversight responsibilities for construction projects. Ultimately, efforts should be geared toward the formation of interdisciplinary project management teams consisting of architects, engineers, construction managers, and contract administrators to administer projects from planning through implementation. This would result in more precise and accurate drawings, value engineering, and minimal change orders.