The Current DWP Governance
Governance of the Department of Water and Power is shared among the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, the office of the mayor, the city council and staff, and the city attorney. In effect, the DWP general manager reports to all of them, albeit in different ways on different policy and operational issues. This chapter describes the complex interactions among these governing entities, as well as the roles of such other important actors as the city controller, the CAO, and the CLA. It also outlines how the new city charter amendments, which were adopted in June 1999 and went into effect in July 2000, will affect DWP governance.
The 1925 Los Angeles City Charter established a five-member Board of Water and Power Commissioners to head the DWP. Commissioners were appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council to five-year, staggered terms. The commission selected its own officers from among its members, chose the general manager, 7 and generally was empowered to oversee the department. 8
Because the DWP generates its own revenue from water and power sales, the 1925 charter established it as a “proprietary department” with somewhat more autonomy than other city departments. The DWP has its own budget that is separate from the city's general fund, can hold property separate from the city, and can issue debt backed by its own revenue rather than rely on the city's general obligation bonds. For more than 50 years, the commission could set salaries for DWP employees covered under the city's civil service system, but this authority passed to the council in 1977.