DPW reorganization recommendations coming

DPW reorganization recommendations coming

Consultants next week will recommend how best to restructure the East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Public Works. SSA and HTNB, the two consulting teams hired by the parish to study the issue, will present the findings of their months' worth of meetings, workshops and field interviews to the steering committee that is studying ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the sprawling DPW.

Already, several ideas have been discussed, according to Metro Council members who serve on the committee. They include splitting up the department into separate departments—as opposed to different divisions within a single department—or dividing it geographically so that each area of the parish has its own mini-DPW, so to speak.

"We've seen about six or seven possibilities for the organizational chart," says Councilman Joel Boé. "My biggest takeaway is there is a severe bottleneck when you get to the top. We need to free that up. The guys at DPW do a great job but are really overloaded. We need to make clear who is responsible for what."

DPW is one of the largest and most unwieldy departments within city-parish government. Among the areas under its jurisdiction are sewer, roads, sanitation, code enforcement, permits, environmental, public building maintenance and litter.

"It isn't very efficient," says Councilmember Tara Wicker, who's also on the steering committee. "There's a lot of duplication and not a lot of communication or connection."

Privatization of the agency, which has been discussed in the past, will not be among the options seriously considered by the committee, at least not for now, say committee members.

"I think the idea is to just better define who is responsible for what," Boé says. DPW Interim Director David Guillory, a longtime employee of the department, agrees change is needed within the department.

"We do a lot of things well," he says. "But there are things I think we could do better."

The steering committee meets on Wednesday, March 27. Wicker says the committee's original goal was to present a proposal to the Metro Council by this summer and to have the reorganization in place by the end of the year, but adds that timeline may no longer be realistic.

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