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Study: Update Mantecas 1970s Public Works
Rich Clinton drives a City of Manteca recycling truck. - photo by HIME ROMERO
An independent efficiency analysis of the Manteca Public Works Department gives it high marks at the same time it notes there are additional opportunities to do everything from improving employee morale to implementing even more cost-effective measures.

The study by Kirchoff & Associates determined “public works is operating at an effective level by any standards of measurements. It is staffed by professionals committed to getting the job done on a 24/7 basis.”

The study concluded much of the efficiencies were accomplished by organizational, operational and personnel changes made in the past two years to deal with shrinking municipal revenue.

“While these changes have placed the department under a significant amount of stress, they have nevertheless been absolutely necessary given the fiscal challenges facing the community,” the consultants concluded.

Among the 12 critical findings of the report are:

•Communication between management, supervisors and employees needs considerable improvement.

•Morale is low.

•Employees do not understand the department’s vision.

•A negative workplace culture exists in many units.

•Many facilities are outdated and inefficient.

•Orders and directives from supervisors are often conflicting and confusing.

•There is a lack of accountability.

•There is a need for better leadership.

•Employee training is inadequate.

•Policies and procedures are confusing and sometimes non-existent.

•The department has no program budget and associated with performance metrics.

In making recommendations on how to reserve the 12 critical findings, the firm noted “the Manteca Department of Public Works is a ‘70s public works organization in that its focus is on getting the job done. It focuses very hard on getting the job done but the collection of reliable data and information can be used to measure and analyze the department has not been a priority.”

The consultants pointed out the lack of a capital improvement program - the plan to expand and reorganize the corporation yard to consolidate operations - that wasn’t addressed until recently is another sign about how far behind the department is.

The report issued by the consultants indicated if the 12 critical findings can be addressed it would result in significant efficiency gains.
There are 46 recommendations for the city to consider in improving the public works operations.

Among them:

•Eliminate vacant positions that are not absolutely necessary to operating Public Works.

•Re-align the department structure so more management can be devoted toward municipal services.

•Transition to a program performance budget business system.

•Build out the corporation yard.

•Focus on improving organization culture.

•Some of the control over workers in several department units is excessive.

•There needs to be a formal methodology for creating, preserving, and sharing knowledge.

•Draft a set of operational policies and procedures and provide them to every Public Works employee.

•Establish an annual performance evaluation system based on specific goals and objectives established by the employees’ supervisor.

•Public Works needs to make better use of the city’s website.

•The department needs to make better use of global information system tools and train employees accordingly.

•Centralize purchase orders.

•Put vendors that are used daily for large purchases on an open purchasing order.

•Create a centralized electronic filing system.

•Develop a more collaborative partnership between the Department of Finance and Public Works.

•Finish the Public Facilities Improvement Plan (PFIP) as quickly as possible.

•The concept of meeting development deadlines as established under the Subdivision Map Act is not embraced by all of the engineering staff.

•Comments by staff are sometimes confusing and unclear after the first submittal of project plans underscoring a need to make sure comments are reasonable, complete, and make established professional guidelines.

•Investigate why the forward landfill doesn’t appear to meet its contractual obligations.

•Establish on-line submittals for plans so each city department involved in the review process can check plans concurrently.

•Survey sewer division equipment and replace outdated equipment.

•Eliminate street sweeping on holidays.

•Provide temporary bathroom facilities for work crews so they do not have to leave job sites.

•Adopt a formal fleet management policy.

•Switch all water meters to automated meter reading systems.

•Cross-train operators in the water and wastewater divisions to cover for an absent operator or when one is on leave.

•Reduce redundant paperwork.

•Obtain a time clock that identifies graveyard and swing shifts.

•Consolidate streets and building maintenance divisions.