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INTRODUCTION The day-to-day management of the District of Columbia is one of the most obvious reasons why Americans have little pride in their nation's capital city. Hardly a week goes by without some city government official or worker being accused of some impropriety. While these embarrassing disclosures may be little different than in many of the nation's other inner cities, NARPAC, Inc. believes that our nation's capital deserves--and can achieve--far better. Surely, we can collectively get closer to the orator's image of the "shining city on a hill". In fact, several agencies are at work to accomplish these changes:

o The first concerted effort came from President Clinton when he established under the aegis of his Office of Managemernt and Budget (OMB) a special Federal DC Task Force to develop solutions to DC's looming financial crisis;

o Soon thereafter, DC essentially fell into "receivership" under the direct authority of a "Financial Control Board" which soon grew to control virtually all aspects of the DC government;

o The first definite products of this Control Board came in the form of a series of consultants' reports which "officially" defined the scope of the problems, and suggested a long itemized list of short-term "fixes" now being implemented;

o Summaries of these control board reports are included under each relevant category of "major issues", and several relating directly to city management are contained in a separate section on City Managament Reports. A particularly interesting survey of residents' views about city services is also included there;

o And in fact, by early spring of 1998, there were some encouraging signs of turnaround in the personnel situation, and even for the troubled consumer affairs agency;

o By the spring of 2000, Mayor William's management objectives hadf matured substantially, and his testimony before a Senate Sucommittee seems to present a valuable summary of his more current expectations;

o In one of Mayor's William's first public utterances, he suggested the possibility of competing many government jobs with the private sector, which stirred up a hornet's nest in the entrenched bureaucracy, and seems more recently to have lost emphasis;

o Moreover, a totally revamped Inspector General's Office began to uncover and offer solutions to problems in DC management from the inside, rather than the outside.

o In mid-April, 1998, DC's Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton sent a lengthy Memo to the President outlining her views of what still remains to be done by the Control Board to turn the city around and return it to home rule;

o Each month brings additional headlines in the local papers about problems in--and now, solutions for--city management, presented here as a chronological listing of Washington Post stories about DC's elected city management over the past year;

. o News stories specifically about the ups and downs of the Control Board are listed with other major financial issues.

o Many near-term fixes are now underway to improve the operation of the DC government. NARPAC, Inc. has focused more on long term solutions and presents a January, 2002 updated check list of these more major steps.

City Management Reflects DC's "Urban Mindset"

In fact, the city's government has quite accurately reflected an urban mindset where a substantial number of disadvantaged voters (by no means necessarily a majority) coalesce around activist leaders who have essentially run the city as a welfare/jobs program. Many employees believe they have an inalienable "right" to not only government hand-outs, but to government jobs. These are considered to be implicit in the 1970s notion of "home rule"and the current style of city management..

The situation is aggravated by the use of the federal civil service model in which it is difficult, if not impossible, to discharge marginal workers. Suburban governments have long since adopted more stringent government personnel policies. Furthermore, the DC has a "city administrator" form of government in which the day-to-day management of the city, the hiring of personnel, and the granting of contracts is in the direct chain of command from the mayor, and therefore susceptible to extensive politicization. Many more progressive cities have shifted towards the "city manager" approach in which normal government operations are in the hands of professionals with much greater freedom to demand higher levels of performance. Many state governments have retained the right to play a role in this shift.

In a not too surprising move in June, 1998, the departing Chairman of the Control Board has recommended in a public forum that the city manager approach be institutionalized for the DC Government. The resulting firestorm of protest from all quarters in DC is indicative of how indifferent this chairman has been to local hypersensitivities. Fearful that "mayor" Faircloth might codify this approach without consulting with district residents and leaders, the proposal is being flaunted as a return to the "Three Commissioner approach" of the early three quarters of this century. That this has nothing to do with the Brimmer proposal (to make sure that the three key positions of Chief Management Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Inspector General remain professional and free from daily political influence-- albeit appointed by the mayor and City Council acting together) is testimony to increased tensions as the 1998 elections approach.

The Editors of the Washington Post tried to sum it up by asserting that Washingtonians are "sick and tired of being treated as though they are too incompetent to be engaged in....(how) they should be governed". Others regularly insist that "home rule" includes an inalienable democratic right to select one's own form of city government--which would come as a great surprise to most city dwellers in the fifty states! Nevertheless, a later editorial acknowledges that it is not too soon to begin an extended dabate on restructuring DC's future government. In any event, there appears to be a growing risk that the eventual adoption of a truly professional city government may be rejected out of spite for a Control Board chairman they came to view as an autocratic overseer.

The National League of Cities supports the council/mayor/city manager approach--as well as shifts towards regional metro area authorities. A recent study by the DC Agenda Project under the Federal City Council looks favorably on any from of government yielding "clarity of responsibility and accountability"; "public-spirited elected officials"; and "strong professional management that emulates the best practices in government and business, and rewards continuous improvement in employee performance." Nevertheless, this study finds that "it would be particularly inappropriate for the national government to impose a different form of government on the District". Such a statement might read quite differently if the DC were within any one of the 50 states.

The question of significant changes to the present forms of the DC government are addressed in the DC Agenda Final Report . The issues surrounding the highly controversial shift to a "city manager" are treated in a GUPPI Backgrounder . The opportunities for shifting towards more regional authorities are discussed later in that same GUPPI Backgrounder .

The combined functions of "Government Direction" and "Economic Development" have consumed on average 9.5% of DC's budget over the past 11 years ('87-'97), and some 10% of its non-federally funded personnel. Its share of the budget has dropped from over 11% in FY87 to just over 7% in FY97, and its approved personnel levels for FY 97 are about 2100 "fulltime equivant" employees. These figures doubtless include some employees performing state-level tasks. Nevertheless, this "overhead" seems far from typical. Its excesses appear confirmed by the fact that the phone book listings for the DC government are over twice as long as the average of the four surrounding counties. Some increases in efficiency are surely possible, but major savings will require downsizing DC functions. See Comparative Costs of Local Government .

Fixing the vast inefficiencies of the DC government is a major focus for the DC's new Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, more popularly known simply as the Financial Control Board FCB . The Control Board is becoming more and more open in its criticism of widespread incompetence at many levels within the DC government, and steps are being taken to at least provide some job training for middle-level managers. It is also clear that the conduct of "state-level" functions does not explain the excessive numbers of government personnel--to the contrary there appears to be overstaffing in those operations too. The combined costs and personnel levels are far higher than for the neighboring states.

Not only are DC government personnel rosters inflated, so are the government benefits established by local authorities for DC workers in the private sector. Among the factors which keep DC businesses from being competitive with those of the neighboring states is the matter of workers' compensation and unemployment benefits. For instance, the average per employee costs for unemployment insurance are $406 in DC, $328, in Maryland, and $176 in Virginia. The maximum weekly unemployment benefit in DC is $309, in Maryland, $250; in Virginia, $208, and the average duration of benefits in DC is 19.9 weeks; in Maryland, 15.8 weeks; and in Virginia 10.3 weeks. The minimum unemployment tax rate is 1.6% in DC; 0.9%, in Maryland; and 0.1% in Virginia.

In DC, workers can draw benefits indefinitely for on-the-job injuries: in Virginia there is a 10-year maximum. Furthermore, in DC, injured workers can pick their own doctors (some of whom may well bend the rules for their clients) while Virginia has adopted a managed care plan using doctors chosen by the employers. This is a typical area in which the development of common regional standards could help "level the playing field", according to the staff director of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. This view is strongly supported by NARPAC, Inc.

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page THE FEDERAL DC TASK FORCE

1996 Annual Report of the Task Force

At the direction of the President, a special task force was set up to coordinate assistance for the DC from other federal agencies--a kind of domestic aid package which would bring the skills and resources of the federal government to the "troubled" DC government--without special legislation. This is how it was described in the first annual report of that Task Force:

As D.C.'s financial crisis grew, the President asked Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Alice M. Rivlin to convene a group of officials in Executive Branch agencies to work among themselves, and with their D.C. counterparts, to help the District cope with its financial problems. The Task Force, which Rivlin chaired (until she left OMB), includes officials from the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Treasury, Justice, Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Transportation. These departments traditionally have enjoyed good working relationships with their D.C. counterparts, and the creation of the Task Force helped coordinate and enhance their efforts. The efforts of these and other agencies to improve the quality of services that D.C. delivers to its residents are summarized below, and in other major issue sections :

I. Job Creation
o Swift legislative action, which the Administration proposed to preserve D.C.'s share of Federal highway funds (discussed in more detail below), allowed the city to pay delinquent accounts to contractors on the job, thus saving 1,800 jobs. It also permitted D.C. to advertise bids for another $50 million in new projects. By the spring, when the projects will be under construction, the total Federal aid program will support 4,500 jobs.
o The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has formed a partnership with D.C.'s Public Works and Employment Services departments to give introductory construction experiences to more than 200 young D.C. residents.

II. Financial Management
The Treasury Department has worked to provide D.C. with financing for operating and capital purposes. In addition, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has worked with D.C.'s Department of Finance and Revenue on tax collection issues.
Access to Capital. In March 1995, Treasury worked closely with OMB and Congress to develop the Treasury loan mechanisms of the FRMA Act. Treasury also has worked closely with D.C. officials, giving them technical assistance and helping them with their relationship with the financial markets. Along with the short-term financing that D.C. obtained last June, Treasury advanced $96 million in October 1995 for other capital purposes, including D.C.'s METRO obligation, and $283 million in January 1996 to meet the District's cash flow needs for the first quarter of fiscal 1996.
IRS Tax Collection. After reviewing the D.C. Department of Finance and Revenue operations, lRS staff has recommended ways to reform and, in some cases, create modern tax information systems for D.C. The District established a task force to implement the recommendations, with technical assistance from the IRS; the IRS will continue providing other technical help as needed.

1998 Federal DC Task Force Updates

At the request of NARPAC, Inc., Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has made available the latest update report (May, 1998) on the extensive activities of the Federal DC Task Force to assist in solving the District's myriad problems. These efforts must be taken into account in evaluating the future of the federal payment to DC, and in perpetuating the encouraging budget turnaround now getting underway. Summaries are provided of the significant contributions being made to the District's problems in:

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page DC FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY AND MANAGEMENT ASSISTANCE AUTHORITY

A concise description of the origins of the Control Board is contained in the attached excerpt from the 1996 annual report of the DC Task Force (see below).


Because Washington is the Nation's capital and the Federal government is the primary employer and purchaser in the Washington area, the President felt a special responsibility to help D.C. address its financial problems. The Administration recognized quickly that D.C.'s financial situation required the kinds of measures that other financially troubled cities have used successfully. In early 1995, Administration officials and Members of Congress worked with D.C. to develop the Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Act (FRMA Act), which Congress passed promptly and the President signed on April 17, 1995.

The FRMA Act created the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority, a new entity of the D.C. Government, and charged it with reviewing and approving:

o budget requests of the D.C. Government, ensuring that they reflect a four-year path to a balanced budget; and

o all borrowing requests, certain leases and contracts, and most legislation adopted by the D.C. Government, ensuring that those items are consistent with the four-year financial plan.


After reviewing applications from over 100 individuals, the President appointed five highly-qualified District residents. One of the Authority's first acts was to endorse D.C.'s request to borrow $147.5 million from the U.S. Treasury, which D.C. used to meet its payroll and pay vendors. The Treasury Department was instrumental in arranging this borrowing. The District has since repaid this loan out of its annually appropriated Federal payment.

Since then, the Authority has worked with the D.C. Government to:

o provide recommendations on D.C.'s fiscal 1996 budget request of $5. 1billion to Congress, including recommendations to eliminate 5,000 D.C. Government jobs;

o adopt interim procedures for contract review; and

o develop objective criteria for vendor payments.

In addition, the Authority has broad responsibility to work with D.C. on a wide range of management issues, including personnel and procurement.


return to top of the page SUMMARY OF 1997 CONTROL BOARD REPORTS
In the introduction to its June 1997 status report on its strategic plan, the Control Board summarizes its mission as follows:

"The Authority's mission is to create a stable, vital environment that will retain existing residents, businesses and visitors, and attract new ones. This environment will be created by helping to ensure that fundamental improvements are made in the financial and management structure of the District."

Early emphasis was placed on a series of issues including evident difficulties in: the public school system; police management; procurement and contracting; government personnel; and information technology. A series of reports on these issues were released between November 1996 and May 1997 which formed the basis for the Control Board's subsequent actions. Of special interest is the set of reports which clearly laid the foundation--the indictment, if you will--for the establishment of the "Emergency Transitional Education Board of Trustees"

. These reports also doubtless set the tone for later Congressional actions leading to the Control Board being ordered to take over virtually all of the major operational agencies still under DC Government control. The Board was also ordered to collect detailed information on each of these agency operations within 60 days, and the resulting consultants' reports were released on October 15th.

NARPAC, Inc. has now obtained and summarized both the earlier reports and the October 15th reports under the relevant sections of Major Issues .

In addition, the Control Board commissioned a survey of DC residents' views on both the current quality of, and the proper priority for, some 27 individual city services. This little publicized report is also summarized under Residents' Survey

POTENTIAL TURNAROUND IN DC PERSONNEL PROBLEMS

There are several indications that some of the "systemic" problems with the government personnel system in DC are being addressed. These include:

Broadening the Base in DC City Management

NARPAC, Inc. strongly believes that if DC is to become "as good as Americans can make it", then it will have to seek professional management from across the US, or at the very least across its metro area. With appropriately little fanfare, the Control Board is moving in this direction. Salaries have been raised until they exceed those of the surrounding jurisdictions. DC now has 64 positions paying in excess of $100,000 annually, compared to 39 in Montgomery County, 13 in Prince George's, and 34 in Fairfax County. In fact, five DC positions now pay better than federal Cabinet members. Of these 64 high paying positions, 24 are filled by "outsiders", several still remain vacant, and others are still changing. It would not be unreasonable for less than half of these positions to be held by individuals from within the DC government by the end of 1998.

In a little publicized move in late May, 1998, DC's CMO Camille Barnett dismissed four DC government department heads for "unsatisfactory performance". Gone from the rolls are the heads of the Personnel Office, Wheelan; the Technology Office, Hernon; the Department of Public Health, Noonan; and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Watts. Barnett also asserted that she would look for talented, reform-minded department heads recruited after a national search. Earlier in the month, DC's new Police Chief Ramsey also announced that he would bring in outsiders to fill senior positions, and subsequently hired the director of the Illinois State Police as an assistant chief.

Council's Personnel Reform Bill Is Enacted

By June, 1998, the DC Council had passed, and the Congress had approved, the Omnibus Personnel Reform Act of 1998, which became DC Law 122-124. This bill should help "professionalize" the city work force. The primary advantages seem to be: the re-establishment of an Executive Service category; the replacement of the past performance evaluation system with a "comprehensive performance management system" that links pay to performance for the first time; and the raising of pay levels to recruit top-notch executives. According to the Staff Director of the Committee on Government Operations, the bill also establishes a "Management Supervisory Services of at-will employees to promote accountability, and streamlines the discipline and employee appeals process while restoring grievance and arbitration rights to city employees". It also addresses "work compression schedules" and leave practices, and modifies the appeal process concerning personnel records.

Along the way, requirements were dropped to establish residency requirements for employees and give preferential treatment for residents in considering reductions-in-force. This dubious residency requirement was passed as a separate bill by the Council--and approved by the Control Board--but appears likely to be vetoed by the Congress which, for good or bad, continues to exercise its authority to interfere in DC's legislative process.

On several occasions (See Washington`Post daily headline for April 16, 2000) the mayor has indicated his hope to be able to demonstrate that a fine American city can be managed by the new generation of professional African Americans. Stung early in his administration by a widely publicized comment that he "might not be black enough" to run DC, the mayor may simply be trying to prove that he is. Nonetheless, he seems to take pride in the fact that his cabinet now counts 34 blacks among of a total of 47 senior managers. To prove that his race is competent is surely a noble goal. To set a quota system for his cabinet is surely illegal. To limit his selection of candidates for high position in DC to any one-twentieth (roughly) of the total American professional talent pool would seem to NARPAC to be the heighth of folly. And if he's simply trying to match his city's demography, then he already has six too many blacks on board.

NARPAC deeply hopes that the mayor has no hidden racial scorecard, and that he will objectively seek the most competent people available for his administration, regardless of race, religion, or sex.

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page

THE MAYOR SUMMARIZES HIS MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES

On May 9, 2000, Mayor Williams appeared before the Senate Government Oversight DC Subcommittee, and presented a comprehensive statement of his management objectives. NARPAC, Inc. presents an abbreviated version of this testimony because we believe it provides a sound summary of his ambitious objectives to revitalize the city government:

 

BEYOND THE BASICS:
SUSTAINING SUCCESS THROUGH PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT

Before the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government, Restructuring and the District of Columbia Committee on Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate

 

Introduction

Chairman Voinovich, Senator Durbin, thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today on performance management in the District of Columbia. In the first fifteen months of my administration, the District government has made great strides in instituting a performance management system that introduces accountability for each and every agency and employee in order to transform the government into one that is responsive to citizens. This approach has already shown promising results in my first year in office and will continue to drive change in years to come.

When I took office, the management challenges my administration inherited were daunting:

1. Accountability for the District workforce was rare, if not non-existent;
2. A deeply entrenched culture resistant to change;
3. An infrastructure decimated by deferred maintenance and disinvestments;
4. And, technology needs that were grossly inadequate.

Attacking these underlying issues is a long-term effort, but we needed immediate successes.

1999 Short-term Action Agenda

My first priority was to restore faith in government by demonstrating rapid, visible improvements in basic services. I challenged my cabinet to set an aggressive Short-term Action agenda. We set concrete objectives with measurable deadlines, ranging from a month to no more than a year, and I am proud to report that we completed 90 percent of them during 1999.

However, short-term initiatives are only a down payment. They built trust and confidence, and they gave us a little momentum, but ultimately the challenges facing the District are significantly greater.

..... I want to highlight a few and describe how we are building on these short-term successes:

* We restructured electrical and building permit processes...;
* We established a single phone number for residents to call for information and service requests...;
* We targeted open-air drug markets in six communities and arrests increased through stepped-up enforcement...:

A Citywide Strategic Plan

In formulating my priorities I decided to do something a little untraditional, I decided to empower citizens to set priorities for our government. Our citizens have 20 years of pent up civic pride. They love the city and they're itching to make a difference in their neighborhood. For far too long, local government has not been a reliable partner. So I held a citizen summit in November. More than 3,000 residents answered the call and came to help me set priorities for the city and their neighborhood.

This wasn't just a feel-good exercise. We compiled those comments and used citizen priorities to put together the budget for next year. I also used them to develop a citywide strategic plan -- with a set of very specific, measurable goals for every agency of our government. The plan is organized around five priority areas:

* Building and Sustaining Healthy Neighborhoods
* Strengthening Families, Children, Youth
* Promoting Economic Development
* Making Government Work
* Enhancing Unity of Purpose

Using the citywide plan as a template, throughout 2000-2001 residents will be engaged in a Neighborhood Action planning process that provides communities an opportunity to establish their own unique neighborhood priorities.

2000 Mayor's Scorecard

A detailed plan is a great way to keep our government focused and to hold agency directors accountable. But by itself, it's not going to engage the public. I want our citizens to be able to see the progress we are making on achieving their priorities. Until they have some evidence that government will be a reliable partner, they'll have less of an incentive to invest themselves in their community.

So I've developed a set of "Scorecards" for myself and my agency directors based on citizens' goals from our strategic plan. The scorecards are available on our website, www.washingtondc.gov. We are building a virtual e-government, and I hope citizens will keep track of our progress. If every citizen can see the score every day, then this government will become more accountable to the public. It's a management tool to maintain a sense of urgency in our government.

Issuing a Scorecard is similar to the strategy of last year's Short-term Action Agenda. The District:

* Defined the goals and informed the public what they are;
* Gave agency leadership the resources and support needed to meet the goals; and
* Established a system to hold them accountable at the end of the day.

I recognize that many of the goals we set for ourselves are a stretch, but I would rather have ambitious targets and come close than meet or exceed timid goals. This year's goals include:

* 2,000 new and rehabilitated housing units under construction by December 2000...;
. * Reduction of 911 response times to 8:00 minutes for 90 percent of critical medical calls for service...:
* Reduced wait-times at Department of Motor Vehicles to 30 minutes or less for 80 percent of driver's license and inspection transactions...

The Redesigned Scorecard

This Scorecard is very different than the DRAFT Scorecard I shared with you last spring. At that point in time, we were developing a set of indicators with an independent community organization, but as we continued our development efforts the District and the organization recognized several flaws in our approach:

* The DRAFT Scorecard was preceding the development of the Citywide Strategic Plan;
* Many of the indicators were not within the power of the District to impact through government action;
* For instance, the home ownership rate is an excellent indicator of the economic health of a community, but so many factors external to the government determine home buying decisions that the District could not set a realistic target based on government resources or programs:
* The DRAFT Scorecard was dependent on data that was possibly unreliable;

Simply put, we decided to suspend the Scorecard under discussion last spring and develop Scorecards that clearly state the District's commitments in response to the citizens' priorities that emerged through the Neighborhood Action Citizen Summits.

The Scorecard's Place in the Performance Management System

The Scorecard is only one element of the broader performance management system we have in place to evaluate our Deputy Mayors and our Agency Directors. It is a public statement of a few commitments we are making, but it is not an exhaustive list of everything in our Citywide Strategic Plan.
To capitalize on short-term successes and to institute long-term systemic changes, last spring I instructed agency directors to develop strategic plans evaluating existing practices and proposing comprehensive improvements. Directors were to make tough assessments of their organizations' strengths and competencies; question what businesses their agencies were in and what businesses they should get out of; and identify strategies for innovation.

I've set up performance contracts based on these agency plans with my Deputy Mayors and Agency Directors so that they know exactly what they are responsible for delivering and their job security depends on their effectiveness. I'm going to be evaluating their progress twice a year and after the formal year-end evaluation, directors will be rated as meeting, exceeding or below expectations...

. However, we are not waiting for mid-year and year-end evaluations to judge agency success. We are tracking the performance contract commitments on an ongoing basis...(such as:)

* Department of Motor Vehicles...
* Office of Contracting and Procurement...
* Department of Parks and Recreation...

Creating a Culture of Accountability within the Government

With performance contracts in place for the directors at mission critical agencies, the D.C. Office of Personnel is rolling out a comprehensive Performance Management Program throughout the summer of 2000. Our agencies are developing performance agreements for every District employee aligned to the Citywide Strategic Plan and their agency's goals and objectives. These agreements will be in place by October 2000.

This is part of my goal to create a Unity of Purpose. I want all employees to:

* Understand the Citywide Strategic Plan;
* Accept and adopt own role in supporting and executing the plan;
* Incorporate those goals and objectives into their day to day work;
Independent Verification and Validation

How can we be sure we're meeting our goals? We are not just taking agency reports on faith. Agencies are required to provide a clear definition of each Scorecard measure, how the data is collected, calculated and reported. This approach is based on the Office of Management and Budget's guidelines to Federal agencies for ensuring verifiable and valid performance data in their Performance Accountability Plans and Reports. We will start with the Scorecard commitments and will require similar documentation for each measure in directors' FY 2001 performance contracts.

Ultimately, I want this system to stand up to outside verification. I'd like our Inspector General to provide an audit for some of our scorecard items at year-end. Agencies will have provided documentation of how they present performance data, and the Inspector General can determine whether they followed their methodology and whether it was a valid approach.

Remaining Work in Performance Management

My administration has made significant progress in performance management in its first year, linking strategic planning, budget formulation, performance expectations and evaluation. But I recognize the need to do more. Sustaining progress, ensuring valid and reliable data, and benchmarking progress against other jurisdictions are among the District's objectives in 2000.

Performance management isn't just a catch phrase. It's our way to make sure that students get the books they need. That senior citizens get the meals they need. That teachers are paid on time. That foster families get the services they need. In short, we're talking about restoring faith in government, and being a partner to our citizens, our children, and our families. Thank you.

The fact remains, however, that personnel revitalization has gone more slowly than many anticipated. In fact, the emphasis on privatization discussed below seems to have fallen largely out of favor--in large measure to the very strong hold of DC's government unions.

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page PRIVATIZING DC'S GOVERNMENT WORK FORCE

Mayor-elect's Message to Work Force: Shape Up or Be Privatized

In a remarkable--if not foolhardy--pronouncement in mid-December, 1998, Mayor- elect Williams asserted that he is willing to take a page from Indianapolis Mayor Goldsmith's book and require that government-provided services compete with private businesses for their jobs. Goldsmith claims to have saved hundreds of millions of dollars in Indianapolis, and that city's union officials told Williams that "as a result of managed competition, workers take their jobs more seriously, do not call in sick as often, do not abuse equipment, and take pride in their work."

According to the recent Post article, "Williams said he is convinced that because DC government has so many employees who have not been properly trained--and many who should not have been hired in the first place--and because the District spends too much money providing inadequate services to residents, it may be necessary for government to get out of the service-delivery business and look to companies that can deliver services more efficiently and at a lower cost". It seems quite plausible, at least to NARPAC, Inc., that the exact same rationale could be used to salvage the school system.

Soon thereafter, Mayor Williams appointed one of his most contentious, brash, young deputies to oversee labor-management relations, in addition to his duties as Legal Counsel. Already the most controversial member of William's new team, this abrasive fellow has already been branded as a "pushy white boy" by those most likely to resist change. Stay tuned.

By the middle of April, 1999, the mayor had announced that all of the 2000 odd city employees in the Human Services Department would have to "reapply" for their jobs--based on newly established job descriptions. Although municipal workers protested, the city appears willing to persevere. In mid May, the DC School Superintendent Ackerman anounced that she would require some 100 central administrators to 'reapply' for their positions, but by July had decided to eliminate most of them.

It was also announced in Spring, 1999, that suitable city jobs for managed competition would include parks maintenance, vehicle repair, and internal office mail delivery. In May Police Chief Ramsey announced that he would privatize the maintenance of the city's 1470 police vehicles, freeing up eight uniformed police officers for regular duty. No mention has been made of "regionalizing" some of these routine maintenance functions, as NARPAC would prefer.

Ex-Mayor of Indianapolis Raises Caution Flag on Privatization

Shortly after Mayor Williams stated that he would look favorably on privatizing the DC government services work force, former mayor of Indianapolis for 15 years, William Hudnutt, weighed in with a Washington Post OpEd piece urging that "managed competition" be only "a single arrow in the quiver of [the mayor's] efforts to improve municipal performance. Privatization is not a panacea, but if judiciously administered, it can save money and create more effective and responsive governance."

He goes on to make four interesting points:

  • * Will privatization actually create savings that reduce taxes? Claims of great savings to taxpayers often are made to justify out-sourcing of government services, but if savings really occurred, shouldn't they be reflected in lower tax rates;

  • * Will privatization decrease accountability? One danger in giving business to the lowest bidder is that performance often diminishes. As The Post pointed out in a Dec. 16 editorial ["Which Workers Work Best?"], farming out a municipal function to a private contractor does not guarantee better performance:

  • * Will privatization have a discriminatory effect on minorities and women? Often services that are privatized involve low-paying jobs -- janitorial services, for example, or maintenance work. For the most part, these jobs are held by women and minorities. Privatization can put people at the low end of the municipal pay scale out of work;

  • * Will privatization lead to corruption? Money drives politics. If a subtle quid pro quo exists as a result of privatization, campaign contributions may be expected from the beneficiary, and lists of preferred vendors can be the result.

NARPAC, Inc. urges the mayor to continue to look seriously at "managed competition." In all likelihood, good workers displaced by private firms will be hired by them, and those that are not, should not be. Further, the process can be reversed, but a clear message will have been sent- -to all competitors.

NARPAC's In-between Alternative: A Regional Metropolitan Workforce

Between the private sector, with the concerns noted by Indianapolis' ex-mayor Hudnutt, and the perpetuation of a "dysfunctional bureaucracy" as many have labelled the DC city workers, there is an interest but unexplored alternative. NARPAC, Inc. believes that greater consideration should be given to the evolution of a metropolitan public workforce which combines the best talents and experiences of current individual jurisdictional workers with standard job descriptions, pay scales, training opportunities, technology, equipment, and maintenance. The functional areas of public health provision, welfare administration, public higher education, and public works come to mind. In fact, there is no reason not to consider certain specialized aspects of basic public safety and education. Such an arrangement has the advantages of utilizing the best regional civil service expertise to upgrade the least professional workers, while taking advantage of economies of scale and available 'best practices'. For further details, refer to the Williams' transition report on regionalism and NARPAC's comments on it.

Taking on the Unions

One of the riskiest aspects of the new mayor's plans to increase personnel effectiveness is the existence of 38 separate bargaining units within the two-thirds of the DC government workforce that is unionized. It is essential that the mayor demonstrate that any "competition" to privatize will in fact be held on as level playing field. Mayor Williams' stress on developing proper job descriptions, outlining the work expected on each employee, and on providing training for the personnel to do those tasks, has begun to convince the union leaders that in fact government workers can get a fair chance to keep their jobs.

To this end, the union representing the DC Housing Authority has recently signed a four-year contract in which raises are tied to their performance achievements in each year in five areas (unit occupancy levels across the projects in percent of total; unit turn-around time in days; average time to complete non-emergency work orders, in days; successful cash collections for current rent; overall loss in productive work hours due to sickness, excuses, etc.) Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this contract is that the performance objectives are for the entire agency, not for individual workers. Hence it is in each worker's interests to encourage his fellow workers to perform well. The mayor hopes other bargaining units will adopt similar arrangements. This will be a remarkable accomplishment not only for the mayor, but for the unions.

return to top of the page DC'S INSPECTOR GENERAL OFFICE BEING REVITALIZED

One of the little-discussed aspects of democratic governments is their ability to correct their own mistakes (intentional and unintentional) through the use of inspector generals' offices, sometimes called "internal affairs" groups. As might have been expected the DC Inspector General's Office had fallen on hard times under administrations that did not relish self-policing. As a result of the continued flow of scandals from the DC Police Department, and as a result of several unsuccessful appointments by the mayor, a new IG has been appointed by the Control Board. E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr. is a successful Washington lawyer from a well-known DC family took over the office 3 months ago and has begun to turn it around.

Twenty-four newly hired professionals (mostly from outside DC) have brought the staff strength up to 60 people, and brought its morale up at the same time. They are organized into four divisions: Audit; City-wide (except police); Police Dept; and Fraud, and are actively out pursuing leads and "looking for more". Their interests range from unanswered 911 calls, to illegal use of official vehicles, and virtually any wrong-doing from fraud and corruption, down to waste and work non- performance. Recent additions to the IG's office include a senior investigator from the CIA, regional investigators from HHS, Treasury and FBI, one a former IG of the Peace Corps.

The IG's office is typically involved in a number of high profile cases. Among recent ones: the founder of the Kedar School was found guilty of diverting $200K in city funds to pay for luxury cars, parties and other excesses to maintain his lifestyle; fraud was uncovered within the Motor Vehicles Department wherein inspectors accepted bribes for falsified taxicab inspection stickers; and violations of federal laws by Mayors Kelly and Barry were identified associated with authorizing their employees to overspend their budgets.

Current cases include: the abuse of parole regulations in letting killers out to kill again; fraud at the highest levels of the police department: and the possible misuse of government funds in the emergency school roof repairs in 1997. Lower profile cases are generally underway in such areas as inappropriate use of government vehicles; building inspectors accepting kickbacks; and grant recipients diverting funds for personal use.

As with most IGs, they do not have the power to prosecute offenders themselves, but are obliged to turn over their findings to other prosecutorial agencies, federal or local. In many other cases, solutions are found "quietly" in the termination of employees by their department heads. Eventually, of course, as confidence in the unit increases, more "whistleblowers" should come forward, and eventually it is hoped that the IG's deterrent value will become its major function--as it is in many professional jurisdictions.

There remain several limitations: two recognized by the IG involve the failure to create an awareness of who should, and how to, report suspicions of illegal activity, and how to protect employees from retribution:

IG Hotline:

IGs depend heavily on the cooperation of honest citizens and employees anxious to play by the rules. DC's IG office apparently does not get many calls, faxes, or letters. In fact, neither the IG's regular phone number nor their new hot line are in the DC phone book under government agencies--or under "important numbers"--like "crime solvers". It should also be noted that inputs are equally accepted from both employees and citizens at large. All calls are confidential, and callers may remain anonymous. Anyone with credible information (or legitimate suspicions) of corruption, waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement in the current DC government is encouraged to call:

1-800 521-1639 at any time

Whistleblower Legislation:

By mid 1998, the DC Council completed action to significantly strengthen its existing "Whistleblower Statute". Sandwiched between DC Council Bill 12-416, "Bishop Almilianos Laloussis Park Designation Act of 1998", and Bill 12-538 "Official Dinosaur Act of 1998" the Council on June 2, 1998 passed Bill 12-191," Whistleblower Reinforcement Act of 1998", approving it on an emergency basis so that it could go into effect immediately. According to DC Council staff, the Mayor signed the emergency act on June 24th, and it took effect on July 13th 1998, following the mandatory Control Board review. It amends the DC Government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act of 1978 to provide:

"increased protection for employees of the DC government who report waste, fraud, abuse of authority, violation of law, or threat to public health or safety, and to impose an enforceable obligation of DC government supervisors to report violations of law when circumstances so require, and to afford the same whislteblower protection to employees of District instrumentalities and employees of District contractors who are performing work on District contracts."

These provisions are to apply to all employees of DC agencies including the DC Board of Education, DC Board of Trustees, and the Police Department. Among other things, this bill is intended to enhance the rights of employees to challenge the actions or failures of their agencies, and to express their "reasonable beliefs" without fear of retaliation; to ensure that the rights of employees to expose corruption, dishonesty, incompetence, or administrative failure are protected; and to motivate employees to do their duties justly and efficiently.

Title I of the bill also obliges the DC government to "conspicuously display notices of employee projection and obligations under this act in each personnel office and in other public places". It stresses the continued protection of personnel files, medical records, and other information that invades individual privacy. A separate Title II extends essentially the same projection to employees of DC contractors.

NARPAC, Inc. believes that within the ranks of DC government workers, including the public school system and the police department, there are a very large number of conscientious, but passive, employees who have perhaps unwittingly contributed to the dysfunctionality of their organization by their silence. Strong, well-enforced whistleblower legislation can help these frustrated individuals reestablish the ethics and pride of public service. The full support of DC's very active religious communities--and employee unions--is warranted.

NARPAC, Inc. notes three other limitations in IG operations:

First, the IG's office has done little to date to learn from, or cooperate with, IG's in surrounding jurisdictions though they do, of course, belong to the national organization. Regional cooperation may become less important with the arrival of new and more broadly-experienced staff, but one wonders if many cases may be similar throughout the region, and if local area experience could help resolve them.

Second, and far more important, the IG seemed to have focused relatively little special attention on the Public School System--which may, in fact, be in even more trouble than the Police Department. The DCPS is supposed to have a small IG operation of its own, but it is currently non-functional. A fifth major section of the IG's office could well be in order.

Third, unlike other major players in DC's rejuvenation including CMO Barnett, Schools Chief Ackerman, and Housing Receiver Gilmore, the new IG only agreed to stay in office for a little over one year. Whether a serious IG function can be institutionalized within DC's evidently distrustful bureaucracy in so short a time remains to be seen. In fact, he departed (with kudos) in early 1999, and was subsequently replaced with as 'permament' IG in June 1999.

Police Responses to 911/1010 Emergency Calls: IG Investigation #980205

In June of 1998, the DCIG's office released the subject report responding to complaints of delayed Metro Police Department (MPD) answering of emergency telephone calls (911) and non-emergency calls (1010). The goal of the Communications Division is to have its civilian personnel answer emergency calls within 5 seconds, and non-emergency calls within 12 seconds, receiving, recording, and classifying requests for police services and assigning requests to the appropriate units. The 15 computerized receiving and 10 dispatching terminals are manned around the clock by both telephone receipt clerks (TRCs) and dispatchers (who may act as TRCs). There are three findings:

1. That the division is not accomplishing its mission within set time goals;

2. Insufficient TRCs and dispatchers are reporting for work, primarily because of abuse of sick leave; and

3. The MPD is not responding in a timely fashion to the scene of the emergency and non-emergency requests for assistance.

A fourth finding might well have been that the Baltimore Police Department is doing a far better job, and offers several operating procedures that could well be adopted by the MPD.

In general, the attendance problem seems to be related to seven-day-a-week work requirements, high stress levels (for which there is no training), and salary levels substantially below those of the surrounding counties of Fairfax, Montgomery, and Prince George's. Solutions include additional hiring, screening and training of personnel, higher pay, revised scheduling, and the use of police officers on paid administrative leave!.

A fifth finding (according to NARPAC, Inc.) could well have been that for the 148,000 calls answered too slowly, and the 78,000 calls not answered at all (!) so far this year, there have only been 31 complaints concerning slow or no police responses. The remaining 63 complaints registered through May of 1998 dealt with other issues--operator rudeness accounting for almost half of them.

NARPAC, Inc. with it innate skepticism and analytical bent, is puzzled by some of these statistics. It fully supports the IG's conclusion that "citizens have a right to expect that in the event of an emergency, their lifeline to the Police will not fail them". However, there must be some corollary to the effect that "the Police have a right to expect that citizens will not abuse city services intended primarily for use in serious emergencies". Such abuses have been widely rumored, and could easily explain the seemingly excessive number of calls (--and low number of complaints).

Through May 19th (the 140th day of 1998), a total of 558,000 calls had been made to 911 and 1010 (including the 14% unanswered) in a city whose residential population of all ages in now estimated to be below 550,000. It is also known from a related Control Board Survey of Residents that only 24% of city residents have made emergency calls in the last 12 months. This leaves 132,000 residents demanding emergency or non-emergency services from the police, and projected to make 1,450,000 calls to MPD in 1998.

According to other statistics available from DC Indices (1995-96), this 1.5 million calls should be compared to the 75,000 or so patients transported yearly to hospitals yearly by Emergency Services, compared to the 65,000 or so "part one" crimes annually in all of DC (13,000 against people, 52,000 against property), and compared to less than 6000 real fires extinguished per year by the DCFD. It is almost exactly ten times as large as the 144,000 responses performed per year by DC's ridiculously overworked fire companies.

If 25% of the callers make one emergency call per year, if 25% make one per quarter (3 mos); and if 25% call in once a month, then the really active remaining 25% must be calling in every two weeks! Something appears amiss.

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page BEGINNING TO TURN AROUND THE DCRA

Council Business Regulatory Reform Act

In January, 1998, the Mayor signed Act 12-256 to reform DC's processes for regulating businesses--long considered a substantial deterrent to the city's economic growth. Like so many of the Council's actions, there seems to be a mixture of "first order" and "third order" terms. Such items as providing a "one stop business licensing center", reducing the number of license classifications, and decreasing the taxes paid by insurance companies and associations to achieve regional comparability all appear to be wise moves. So does the elimination of scores of boards, commissions, authorities, and task forces (including such groups as the Commission on the Medical Examiner's Office, and the Community Advisory Board on the Deinstitutionalization of Forest Haven). It amends the Environmental Policy Act of 1989 to restrict neighborhood solid waste facilitites, and the Rental Housing Act to permit eviction of tenants convicted of illegal acts on the premises. It does not deal with the removal of rent controls, however, which has led to threats from the Control Board to act unilaterally.

Of less import, It includes limitations on street vendors (since waivered for one year); changes restrictions on "fraternal benefit societies", and consumer protection jurisdiction of the DCRA. Critics complain that this bill does not go far enough to restructure the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) itself, and the Control Board is actively considering additional steps based on their own consultant's report. It is becoming clear that the Council is unwilling to take many of the draconian steps needed to stremaline the DC government, and that the Control Board will have to continue that role.

return to top of the page DELEGATE NORTON SUMMARIZES DC STATUS FOR PRESIDENT

In a long, sometimes rambling, memo to the President in April, 1998, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton lays out her assessment of the Control Board's progress to date, and what more must be accomplished before the return of home rule. Aside from a few histrionics about Senator Faircloth's "destruction of democracy", and her seemingly exaggerated claims about taxpayer flight from the District, her assessment is well worth reading. It is available in its 9-page entirety at Norton's Congressional web site, and is excerpted here. Delegate Norton starts out by congratulating the President for his efforts:

The President has already made an historic contribution with his Revitalization Package few thought possible to enact. The Revitalization Package is probably the most significant contribution of any President in the city's history, considering that improvements in the District's finances and in home rule have usually emanated from the Congress, and unlike the Rescue Package, did not depend so singularly on Presidential leadership.  Even so, following this achievement, the President, at a meeting with city officials at the White House on December 2, 1997, indicated that before leaving office, he wanted the city to be significantly better off than when he took office.  To achieve this result, the President must leave in place a fully empowered, elected city government able to run the city's operations and finances with the confidence of the Administration, the Congress, Wall Street, and District residents.  The President's appointments to the control board will be critical to achieving this goal.

She then notes that it is up to the Control Board to prepare the city for a return to home rule:

Whatever concerns Congress has had with the board's work on city operations has not kept Congress from moving power from city officials to the control board.  The control board has become the entity of last resort for achieving necessary changes.

As a result, board members will be faced with two difficult tasks -- running the city while simultaneously engineering a transition of power back to elected officials.  Failure at the operational mission could jeopardize the return of self-government.  Failure in preparing and executing a transition to fully elected government could result in unpracticed and perhaps resentful local officials lacking the necessary experience to accept a repaired government, keep it in repair, and improve it.

She discusses economic progress to date:

The board has focused on reining in spending, improving the city's credit, and assuring borrowing.  The hard evidence of financial progress, by which control boards most often are judged, is clear..... Both Standard and Poor's and Moody's recently raised the District's bond rating to one grade below investment grade status.  This achievement will probably be followed by further upgrading if Wall Street is convinced that the financial improvements are rooted and will survive the sunset of the control board.

and appears to make rather severe, but realistic, assessments of DC city government management problems:

The most complicated part of the control board's mandate has yet to be accomplished--wholesale restructuring of the District government, including top to bottom reengineering of each agency and reform of the cross-cutting systems essential to reform. The most important goal for the coming period is much more rapid reform, restructuring, and streamlining of the city government itself.

Full financial recovery cannot be separated from operational reform. Elimination of waste and redundancy could release significant amounts for improved service delivery. Part of the funding for these necessities must come from continued streamlining of the unnecessary layers and offshoots of the District's redundant bureaucracy, as promised by the control board.

Several agencies and functions continue as before to operate under receiverships, court orders, and court mandates. Almost all of the court-directed agencies, outside of the authority of the board as well as the city, are far more costly than they would be if subjected to the reform and restructuring they need and eventually must obtain.

Underlying many of the city's operational difficulties has been the inherent difficulty in achieving personnel and procurement reform in such a large and complicated network.  Although the control board gave DCPS and MPD authority to override existing procurement and personnel regulations, these agencies often have been unable to quickly contract for goods and services or to change personnel practices significantly, perhaps because of the need still significantly to rely on parts of the overall government that have not yet been reformed.  Comprehensive City Council personnel as well as procurement legislation recently have been passed, but a totally revamped procurement and personnel system that is central to the reform of all agencies is not yet fully in place.

Restructuring has not yet played a large role in the District's financial recovery.  Beginning when the financial crisis emerged in 1993 and continuing until today, the government has been partially downsized, but it has not been restructured and revitalized.  As a result of downsizing without restructuring and reform, some services and operations have worsened.  The decline in services has not been lost on residents.

The most difficult part of the board's mandate -- the revamping of District operations -- must be accomplished by the year 2001, when the financial audit showing four years of balanced budgets and the elimination of the accumulated deficit will be completed.  Although considerable work necessarily will remain then, significant improvement in the operation of District government agencies will be expected and is fully possible to achieve.  Unlike its first term, the board and only the board will be held responsible for the revitalization of city services because the Congress has transferred operational responsibility from city officials to the board for most functions.

Delegate Norton goes on to suggest the need for a rigorous action plan; a small control board staff; relocation of the control board to the seat of the DC government; greater involvement of elected officials; and greater participation by residents themselves. She then points to a larger role for the private sector and for officials throughout the region
(NARPAC, Inc. emphasis added):

Non-governmental and regional sources have been underutilized during the fiscal crisis. The District's non-governmental sectors are usually rich in background and resources that could be helpful to the District government.  From the business, union, and private sectors are individuals, including many D.C. residents, who have served in high leadership positions in the federal government and others who have helped make this region among the most prosperous in the country.  The non-profit sector is extensive and sophisticated.  The network of civic organizations and neighborhood groups is widespread and diverse and has remained thoroughly engaged, even during periods of demoralization during the crisis.

The regional congressional Members, county executives, and other officials in the region as well as the Council of Governments all could help identify structures and programs that could be transferred and tailored for District purposes.  The region has many effective government structures and programs.  Particularly given the relatively brief period of time the control board has to accomplish much of its work, the board needs to find short cuts rather than to attempt to reinvent the wheel for every needed reform.  It will require some effort to capture these resources, but the benefit to the District should make that effort well worth it.

This last quote directly supports the NARPAC, Inc. views on the importance of regionalism.

She also points to the continued need for federal assistance of various kinds:

The idea of approaching assistance to the District as a process, offering a variety of assistance and leadership that the federal government is in a unique position to provide, is working well and should continue.

The process began when the President established the President's Task Force on the District of Columbia. The work of the Task Force in raising the attention level and coordinating assistance from federal agencies has been invaluable.  (See NARPAC, Inc. write-up on the DC Task Force above.) The District has received continuous technical assistance and financial aid from federal agencies that have helped ameliorate the crisis. Maximizing the contribution of the federal agencies will require the continuing attention of the President's D.C. Task Force. The board can facilitate many more opportunities for federal assistance by identifying where federal assistance can be most useful.

Notwithstanding the Revitalization Package, continued financial assistance to the District is necessary. Continuing federal assistance is necessary also because the District still carries state and county functions other cities do not and could not carry. Assumption by the federal government of the cost of the remaining state and county functions would help make up for the prohibition on a commuter tax and help ensure against the effects of population loss in the absence of a state to come to the aid of the District.

The memo ends with an impassioned plea for restoring self-government and achieving full Congressional representation.

return to the top of the
pageTABLE OF PROPOSED LONG-RANGE SOLUTIONS--CITY MANAGEMENT

The table below presents NARPAC, Inc.'s updated listing of functions and aims within this general category, offering simple goals and approaches for achieving them, and noting the progress (if any) to date. The tabulations and entries are clearly preliminary, but are intended to indicate the full range of steps needed to assure long-range solutions to the District's systemic problems.

OVERALL CITY MANAGEMENT


Revised Version -- January, 2002 -- changes from original in green

Function/Aim (o)NARPAC goal
(>>>)approaches to solution
Progress to Date
CITY COUNCIL o Adopt Professional Approach to Local Legislature .
Organization >>>Add committee for formal neighborhood voice no action
Staffing >>>Increase size/improve caliber of council staff some improvement
Focus >>>Less micromanagement, emphasize needed reform legislation some of each!
. >>> Encourage/stimulate regional cooperation no visible action
CITY ADMINISTRATION o Adopt Professional Approach to Business of Running Model City .
Organization >>>Prepare for transition back from Control Board done well
. >>>Adopt de-politicized city manager approach chose city administrator instead
. >>>Develop systems approach to major issues (like blight removal) Dep. Mayors help some
Self-Regulation >>>Establish thoroughly professional Inspector General's Office done
. >>>Enact and enforce strong "whistleblower statute" bill passed, no use so far
Schools Management >>>Integrate school opns mgmt within city manager organization not done, but closer cooperation achieved
Regionalization >>> Develop strong bonds with neighboring jurisdictions no actions--yet
PERSONNEL o Develop Fully Professional, De-politicized Work Force .
Personnel Levels >>>Set target levels no higher than nat'l per capita norms: 20,000? some cuts, more needed
Personnel System >>>Adopt performance-based civil service system--like neighboring jurisdictions bill passed, changes underway
. >>>Bring in more outside talent being done
. >>>Reach basic new accommodations with gov't unions some progress
. >>>Establish major regional training facillities no action
PROCUREMENT/MAINT o Establish Professional Capabilities to Nat'l Standards .
Contracting >>> Develop professional cadre of procurement/contracting officers slow progress
. >>>Establish regional training facillities no action
. >>>Establish regional procurement/contracting agency no COG action
. >>>Establish regional equipment manitenance centers no COG action
INFO TECHNOLOGY o Modernize Decrepit City Gov't Office Technology .
. >>>Comprehensive review of city's needs finished
. >>>Establish plan to procure, maintain modern equipment citywide good progress

KEY:
COG = Council of Governments

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page

This page was updated on Jan 5, 2002


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