March 8, 2011 > Fremont reorganizes
The City of Fremont "reorganized" some City departments on February 1, reinstating a Public Works Department and shuffling some personnel between other departments. TCV asked Community Services Director Annabell Holland who, until recently, served as Interim Deputy City Manager about the change
TCV: What motivated the change?
Holland: The change came about primarily from the City Manager's office in an effort to maximize staff capacity. With the departure of Development Director Jill Keimach, who accepted the position of Town Manager in Moraga last year, an opportunity arose to take a global look at staff alignment. Redevelopment had been under Development but due to workload issues, was moved to the City Manager's office. It was decided to see if there was a better alignment, improve capacity in the City Manager's office and marry work products in community development, transportation and operations.
In 2003, Fremont layed off 225 positions including some department heads. We did some consolidation but in the process, due to capacity issues, broke apart some operations under different department heads. These measures worked because they had to but they involved quite a bit of overlap and lacked synergy that could be gained with reorganization. We had an opportunity to review these operations since we were recruiting someone new for the Assistant City Manager position.
TCV: What changes have been made?
Holland: We started by moving engineering back together. It was relatively easy to consolidate engineering. Park maintenance and landscaping was consolidated under another department. We looked at other departments to see what else made sense. The move of engineering from Community Development to Transportation Operations, now called Public Works, allowed Redevelopment to move to Community Development where there is synergy with housing and retail development. This change reinvigorates operations that were broken apart in 2003.
TCV: Are further adjustments anticipated as the economy improves?
Holland: I think the structure is proper for our organization even when it grows but there are no guarantees.
TCV: You served as interim Assistant City Manager. Now Mark Danaj has been hired to be Assistant City Manager. What is the realignment with this change?
Holland: Redevelopment was under the Assistant City Manager and has been moved to Community Development. The IT Director who was reporting directly to the City Manager now reports to the Assistant City Manager who will oversee all internal City functions - Internal Services, Engineering Services, Landscape/Maintenance. Community Services now includes Environmental Services and Landscape Architecture.
TCV: Is this reorganization focused on maximizing efficiency and costs?
Holland: This is a model that is focused on efficiency rather than cost savings. These moves are designed to increase department capacity. We are looking at taking a global look at city functions, examining all layers, to put together a comprehensive plan for a sustainable operation. From the perspective of department heads, our capacity is loaded up. The structure will probably remain but there may be functional areas that deliver services differently. In this economic atmosphere, department heads believe in being nimble and do the best we can for the organization.
TCV: Is this reorganization the result of management decisions or were rank-and-file employees involved?
Holland: We have had conversations with staff since 2003 on our organizational structure. The current change was led by the City Manager's office with department heads.
TCV: How has staff responded to this change?
Holland: I have received good feedback. Engineering staff, for example, has been happy and sees the benefit of reporting to an engineer; they speak the same language. Once we started the conversation of reorganization, much of what was done just made sense. Transition to the new structure has actually been discussed and underway for quite a while so no one was taken by surprise.
TCV: Will the public see any differences?
Holland: From a customer service perspective, these changes should be seamless. With improved efficiency, the public may receive faster service in some areas.