Fewer Managers, More Management

Article excerpt

Who's in charge of D.C. government? That is one of the most frequently asked questions since Congress stripped the mayor of most authority in August 1997. The issue was of critical importance then, as a bloated bureaucracy full of highly paid paper-pushers dished up wholesale mismanagement and overspending.

Part of the problem prior to congressional intervention was too many chiefs. Unfortunately, things really haven't gotten any better. As a matter of fact, the bureaucracy is now top-heavier than ever and even more costly.

As things now stand, Chief Management Officer Camille Barnett is in a bureaucrat's dream position, drawing a $155,000-plus annual salary mainly to hire a slew of additional sub-chiefs, even as the old muckety-mucks remain pat and comfortable beneath them. When Congress restructured the upper ranks of D.C. government, its intent was threefold: streamline the workforce, deliver services efficiently and effectively; and restore accountability. By any measure, the effort came up short.

Mrs. Barnett gives herself credit for installing new parking meters, cranking up major road projects and restarting recycling. The truth is those projects were in the pipeline before she joined the bureaucracy. The CMO has been busy, though. Visit her offices on the ninth floor of city hall and you'll get a pretty good idea of the grand style in which the CMO has replaced the mayor and city administrator. Mrs. Barnett's brain trust is simply phenomenal. There are three deputy CMOs, and each Deputy CMO has his or her own mini-bureaucracy. For example, Raymond Shipman is the Deputy CMO for "a safe and clean city. …