Director Ness introduces department realignment plan
ITD Director Brian W. Ness announced this week a realignment of the department that will improve customer service, efficiency and accountability, and save a minimum of $1.5 million over the next two years.
The realignment will reduce the layers of management between Ness and the department's front line supervisors from nine to five and give decision-making back to where the work is being done.
"The department has respected, hard-working employees who told me they are capable and willing to do more. But we need to make changes to our layered organizational structure to have fewer people in offices and more people providing front line services such as snowplowing or inspecting construction projects," Ness said.
Within the department's organization, Ness said there are:
"The bottom line is that too many approval steps are required to make decisions. Many employees told me they believe their hands are often tied," Ness said. "The realignment gives our employees their jobs back while at the same time holding them accountable. The best decisions are always made closest to where the job is being done."
The new organization will have:
Ness said the decision to realign the department came after nine months of meeting with employees, elected officials and customers and assessing how the department operates.
Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he agrees with the direction of the department under Ness' leadership.
Idaho Transportation Board Chairman Darrell V Manning said board members have been involved in the realignment discussion and support the new direction.
Phase one of the realignment will start this month with the naming of the executive officers. In the next phase of the reorganization, Ness will require administrators to make further recommendations on how functions and activities can be streamlined to eliminate duplication and improve efficiency. Each administrator will submit a proposed organizational chart and a phase-in plan before the end of the 2011 legislative session.
Many of the changes will occur when the department fills vacancies. As openings occur, the top priority will be to determine if the position could directly work in a front line service position or support those who serve the customers, Ness said. If not, the department will determine whether to move the position somewhere else in the organization or not fill it.
Idaho House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, (R-Star), said while he has criticized the department in the past, he is encouraged and supportive of its new direction.
Idaho Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John McGee, (R-Caldwell), said communication between the department and legislators is improving.
Idaho House Transportation and Defense Committee Chairman JoAn Wood, (R-Rigby), said the department's realignment is demonstrating that leaders are listening to legislators' concerns.
Lt. Governor Brad Little said the realignment sends an important message.
A member of the task force and a former chairman of the transportation board agrees.