Magazine article Public Management

Team Approach at Sacramento Animal Control Center

Magazine article Public Management

Team Approach at Sacramento Animal Control Center

Article excerpt

The statewide budget crunch hurting California's cities and counties has compelled Sacramento to take a long hard look at ways to improve operations in all departments, including the animal control division. This division, with 23 employees and an annual budget of $1.3 million, falls under the bailiwick of the public works department, which has 750 employees and an operating budget of $80 million per year.

Though a new facility opened in 1993 at three times the size (30,000 square feet) of the old building, the city was unable to hire more employees due to the citywide budget cutbacks. Without additional staff to meet the challenges that the larger facility presented, the division knew that it had to discover new ways to improve operations and that employees had to be an integral part of the plan.

Sacramento hired an outside consultant to draft an organizational study and to help implement it. The study gave personnel at the animal control division the power to implement change through a team-based approach. It addressed a variety of areas: management; organization/operational modifications; training; animal health care; a benchmark study (adoption, licensing, and euthanasia rates); cost recovery; a volunteer program; administrative systems and procedures; and fiscal/financial issues.

The animal control division has identified almost four dozen items that show room for improvement. Many already have been dealt with, or will be soon. The team also continues to develop recommendations on its own, based on feedback from employees in the division.

Here is a sample of the organizational study's key recommendations now being put to use or shortly to be implemented:

1. Implement an employee suggestion program. Employees' suggestions for improvement now are considered for implementation by a peer review panel, not just by management.

2. Establish new priorities for field service. The priority listing for service calls and field assignments has been simplified to improve the response time and workload efficiency of the animal control officers.

3. Expand the training program for animal control officers. The training program for these officers has been strengthened to enhance their professional development and improve customer service. Officers now will receive comprehensive training in these areas: rabies control and procedures; humane education and animal welfare; techniques of law enforcement and citation procedures; and first-aid treatment for sick and injured animals. …

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