Statement on Recommendations in Community Development Department Management Audit
Recommendations identify opportunities to improve customer service, utilize new technology, increase staffing levels, and restructure key functions to enhance the Department's level of service to the community.
San Mateo, CA (January 15, 2014)…
The City of San Mateo released the management audit of the Community Development Department (CDD) conducted by Zucker Systems at a press briefing held this afternoon at San Mateo City Hall. Mayor, Robert Ross; Council Member, David Lim; Interim City Manager, Larry Patterson; and Interim Community Development Director, Rory Walsh were in attendance to discuss the recommendations and answer questions.
Mayor Ross opened the briefing and noted that the audit was conducted following the direction of the San Mateo City Council to evaluate and identify areas of improvement within the City’s Community Development Department. Zucker Systems was selected by the City Council in August to conduct the audit, and the process took place over a four month period beginning in September. Interviews of CDD staff members as well as the City Council, Planning Commission, developers, and members of the public were conducted as part of the process.
The final report includes 224 prioritized recommendations to improve customer service within Community Development and addresses staffing levels, processes pertaining to public noticing as well as the application and approval process for development and building projects.
The Zucker Systems report points to several strengths and recent accomplishments within Community Development including a strong housing program, the Mi Rancho Market and Draper University projects and coordination with neighborhoods. While the report identifies 224 prioritized recommendations, the intent is to not take away from the many successes Community Development has achieved, but to identify opportunities for the Department to become more effective.
“Implementing the Zucker Systems recommendations is consistent with our core principles of providing exceptional customer service and seeking constant improvement throughout the organization,” said Mayor Ross. “These recommendations provide a roadmap for making improvements to the Community Development Department that will improve customer service, lead to better communication with the community, and enhance collaboration between departments.”
The recommendations fall under seven key areas that will help to guide its implementation which include:
• Changes to the overall structure of the department including Code Enforcement, filling vacancies, and recruiting for new positions
• Establishing performance measurements that represent national standards
• Utilizing new technology including implementation of the EnerGov System currently taking place
• Implementing changes to the Building Division
• Recruiting for and integrating new positions into the Department
• Implementing changes to the Planning Division, and
• Remodeling the front counter area to improve customer service and interaction with the public
Council Member, David Lim said, “I am glad we conducted the audit. It was valuable that Mr. Zucker interviewed all employees in Community Development and held focus groups with stakeholders to get candid feedback. A benefit of conducting an outside audit is for employees and stakeholders to shape the report. ”
The report provides a comprehensive review of the Community Development Department offering a wide range of recommendations. There will be opportunities for Community Development to take advantage of new technologies, utilize performance measurements, and implement specific timelines that will help the department become more efficient and responsive to the needs of its customers.
The recommendations identify ways to restructure some of the divisions within Community Development – for example Code Enforcement is part of Neighborhood Improvement and Housing, but the recommendations suggest creating a separate Code Enforcement Division and renaming it Neighborhood Preservation – thus empowering Code Enforcement staff and establishing a more positive image throughout the community.
Increasing staffing levels is also a key component of the audit. Recommendations identify opportunities to bolster staffing within the Building and Planning Divisions as well as providing overall support to the Department. There are still many key positions to fill in Community Development, including a new Community Development Director which will be filled after a new City Manager is selected. Following the selection of a new Community Development Director, the City will begin recruiting for other positions in Community Development.
The City is focused on beginning the implementation process. The Community Development Director and the City Manager’s Office are reviewing the recommendations and will present a recommended implementation schedule at the February 18th City Council meeting. The process of implementing the recommendations is expected to take approximately 18 months.
“The City is pleased with Zucker Systems’ comprehensive review of the Community Development Department,” says Larry Patterson, Interim City Manager. “The recommendations are consistent with our core principles and allow the City to look to the future throughout the implementation process. We are committed to serving the San Mateo community and seeking constant improvement throughout the organization.”
The complete and final version of the management audit is available for the public to review on the City’s website
Larry Patterson, Interim City Manager