Council's adoption of an organizational structure that reports to a city administrator is part of implementing the new form of government overwhelmingly supported by voters in the 2022 election.
City of Portland leaders are close to establishing an organizational structure for the voter-approved new form of government. Over the past few weeks, input from community members, employees and elected officials helped refine a proposed organizational chart meant to unify bureaus, programs, and services under the management of a city administrator. The City shared an updated draft of the organizational proposal today to employees and announced that the related hearing that was originally scheduled for October 19 will be moved to November 1, to allow council to fully consider the organizational chart and the impacts to the City. This is a dynamic conversation, and a finaldraft of the organizational chart is scheduled to be published by the council clerk on October 27.
Council held a second work session yesterday to discuss remodeling city hall to accommodate the expanded 12-member city council and may schedule additional work sessions this month related to budget, the city organization chart, and other aspects of the ongoing transition. Keep track of additional pending sessions on the council clerk’s event page for work sessions. Work sessions do not include public testimony.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to build an organizational structure that is responsive to the needs of Portlanders now and build the foundation of Portland's future. I am proud of the work our leadership team and elected officials have done to focus the service areas to accomplish these goals,” said Chief Administrative Officer Michael Jordan.
In February 2023, council voted to assign Jordan to lead the development of a draft chart that would be presented to city council for a vote in fall 2023. The fall 2023 milestone is important because it allows the city the necessary lead time to implement the complex organizational changes that flow from the new form of government.
Details on the revised draft proposal for a new organizational structure
The highlights of the revised draft proposal include:
- A city administrator’s office and executive leadership team, including six deputy city administrators, an equity officer, and an assistant city administrator. Together, these people would be responsible for leading and coordinating operations across the City to improve the delivery of internal and external services, developing and implementing a shared citywide vision and priorities, and continuing to grow a shared culture across the organization.
This helps with coordination and shared leadership, elevates the function of equity, and builds more accountable and coordinated systems. The Office of Equity and Human Rights, Communications, Community Relations, Council Operations, the Office of Government Relations, and Portland Solutions would all report to this team.
- The organizational chart includes six service areas, each led by a deputy city administrator:
- Budget and Finance
- City Operations
- Community and Economic Development
- Community Safety
- Parks and Recreation
- Public Works
The DCAs, as members of the leadership team, would have responsibilities over their service areas and across the city, enhancing coordination. This structure would also enable programs and functions within service areas that have citywide application, such as budgeting, equity, climate action and asset management (among others) to extend their services across the organization.
If the organizational chart is approved, this leadership team would have the explicit charge of working across service areas to look at the whole city, standardizing practices and approaches where appropriate, elevating and empowering functions and teams for utilization citywide, and otherwise working horizontally across the organization, reducing silos, and working together to address our community’s most pressing problems.
- The equity officer is a new position that would report to the city administrator, and the Office of Equity and Human Rights would report to that position.
- Portland Solutions, now shown as reporting to the assistant city administrator, offers the opportunity for district-based solutions to some of our community’s most pressing challenges more effectively and equitably, specifically around livability. This structure will continue to evolve.
- A natural resources unit would be determined via an ongoing assessment. Like permitting, the City is considering where natural resources best fits in the new organization.
The new reporting structure is critical to transitioning to management under a city administrator
To arrive at a new structure, the Transition team worked with leadership and stakeholders to complete a series of programmatic assessments and engaged peer cites in conversations about best practices. CAO Jordan also considered employee survey feedback and community comments as summarized in a community outcomes report.
Over the last month, more than 600 comments were submitted in a citywide survey and clarifying questions were submitted and are being considered into Jordan’s draft chart recommendation, which was shared to council and employees on October 13. This input as well as feedback from council members informed the latest draft, available today.
The new recommendation intends to support the new administrator in managing the City’s operations effectively from their first day. While some of the City's employees will see their programs move to better align their work, for the most part, this draft chart does not represent major changes for most employees working for the City.