THE Department of Public Works plans to consolidate some its functions in a bid to optimize its continuously shrinking manpower.
According to its 2013 budget submittal, one of DPW’s key goals is to realign and merge redundant functions, inter-program equipment usage, and re-evaluations of program requirements.
Details of the plan were not available as of press time.
DPW’s revamp plan, according to the budget package, is aimed at streamlining its operations so that “pupil transportation will be provided, vehicles will be repaired, maintained and operated for safe monitoring, roadways will be maintained and constructed, building requirements and contracts will be administered, and government buildings will be maintained for safety and comfort.”
DPW Director Joanne Brown said her agency at this point is already operating on bare bones as a result of attrition since she took the helm of the department.
Brown said the department has been unable to fill scores of vacant positions because DPW has not been receiving the funding level commensurate to the actual cost of its operations.
She said DPW, which has eight divisions, had 328 employees when she assumed office. At least 56 employees have since left and their positions remain vacant.
“All our divisions have much smaller staff than they used to have. In the 1980s, DPW has 778 employees and now, 30 years later, we are down to 272,” Brown said. “We have transitioned from a large department to a mid-size department.”
The growing workload at the department, she added, is disproportionate to the size of its staff.
“We don’t have less students to transport, but we have less drivers and less bus and highway maintenance employees,” Brown said.
She said the consolidation plan would be a challenging initiative, considering that each division has a distinct function.
“I hope we don’t further downsize, or else we might be forced to close some of our divisions,” Brown said. “We have more CIP projects [and] new road constructions, but our divisions continue to decrease because we have limited funds to address the manpower shortage.”
According to its budget package, DPW plans to increase fees for services it provides and begin charging for other services that are currently rendered at no cost.
DPW is requesting a budget of $10.43 million for fiscal 2013, which is a little over $2 million more than its current appropriation of $8.67 million.
DPW also stands to receive additional appropriations from special and federal funds for a grand total of $19.6 million, including the proposal allotment from the general fund.
Excluded from DPW’s budget request are funding for streetlights in the amount of $7.3 million; unfilled vacancies, $2.6 million; unpaid prior year’s obligations, $1.8 million; and bus purchase and repairs, $2.5 million.
One of the department’s immediate objectives is to fast-track capital improvement projects “to meet the demands of the anticipated ‘construction boom’ associated with the military build-up.”
DPW also plans to complete all architectural and engineering contracts for pending construction projects.