Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Personnel Department Organizational Development Study

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Personnel Department Organizational Development Study

Article excerpt

processing resource list, try to determine the appropriate level of technical and data processing resource allocation needed in MIS and Records, as well as in the other units.

Provide business process analysis training

Key members of staff should be provided with business analysis training to determine if such training will enhance daily operations and considerations for organizational restructuring.

Employee Wellness

This article reviews the City of Seattle Personnel Department' s comprehensive examination of the Department's mission, key programs, and its organizational structure. This review was undertaken in order to improve customer services and productivity, in the face of budget cuts and other reductions in resources.


As is the case with many municipalities, the City of Seattle's Personnel Department has come under increasing criticism in recent years. This criticism can be attributed to several factors--budget reductions have reduced the Department's capacity to adequately service customer needs, and appropriated funding levels no longer support outdated systems and procedures designed to deliver services. The Department had responded to these cuts by reducing services, in many cases far below customer expectations.

In addition, the business needs of the City's operating departments have changed, and the Personnel Department's policies, procedures, and programs have failed to keep up with these changes. Work assignments are no longer static and stable. Yet personnel policies, procedures, and "observed rituals" have remained as remnants of civil service principles designed for stable business environments from 100 years ago.

In the face of a changing workforce, the Personnel Department's strategic role in the City to help operating departments and employees rather than control is more important than ever before. While there are external factors, such as federal and state laws, requiring a certain level of control, it is perceived the City's personnel functions control beyond what is reasonable, given the business pressures operating departments face and what employees want.

Given these changes, the Personnel Director recently initiated a comprehensive examination of the Department's mission, key programs, and its organizational structure, in order to improve customer services and productivity.

Several study groups were formed around programs that had been identified by employees, unions, operating departments, and policy makers as those inhibiting customer service. These study areas included the Department's

* organizational structure,

* classification/compensation review system,

* employment system,

* information management, and

* employee wellness programs.

The study process was highly participatory, with study groups consisting of Personnel Department employees, and key user department management representatives. In addition, briefings, workshops, and presentations were conducted with Personnel Department employees, management and personnel staff from operating departments, Law Department, City Council, Office of Management and Budget, and union officials.

Each study area identified problems with the current system, and developed evaluation criteria and options, and made recommendations for consideration by the Personnel Director.

This article reviews the study group's actions and recommendations.

1. Organizational Structure


This section examines the structural impediments imbedded in the Personnel Department's organizational alignment, and outlines organizational options. In addition, other non-structural impediments to customer service are identified, and recommendations to remedy those impediments are identified.

A working committee representing both key user departments and internal Personnel Department staff was formed to identify problems with the Department's organizational structure, identify organizational models, and make recommendations. …

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