(PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — A new report says Portland city bureaus have not implemented many of the cost-cutting recommendations from a 2011 study that looked at how many employees were supervised by each manager.
The 20-page report by the Council Budget Subcommittee, “Citywide Span of Control Study,” released Wednesday after a Portland Tribune public records request, found that some bureaus were top heavy with more managers than necessary.
The bureaucratic phrase at issue is “span of control.” Ideally, city bureaus would have no more higher-salaried supervisors than is necessary to direct lower-salaried employees. But the new report says the Portland Police Bureau in particular, is top heavy with command staff and that between $500,000 and $2.5 million could be saved if 22 command-level positions were either changed to sworn officer status or eliminated. The report found that there are 33 police officers receiving supervisor pay who oversee three or fewer officers.
The new report describes a city bureaucracy that has evolved bureau by bureau rather than by design, and that has taken shape by organizational changes that did not take into account optimum efficiency. Some bureaus, according to the report, have supervisor to employee ratios based on managers’ decisions to reclassify employees into pay increases as a means of keeping them on board. Others have their supervisor-to-employee ratios dictated by retirements, according to the report.
The report echoes a 2011 study by the Portland city auditor that recommended that each bureau set and try to meet goals for how many employees would be supervised by each manager.
Drummond Kahn, director of Portland’s Audit Services, says he is pleased that the new report will keep the 2011 recommendations in public view. But Kahn says he is concerned that recommendations from as far back as 1994 still have not been fully implemented.
“It’s good the city is still discussing it, but it means the work still needs to be completed,” Kahn says.