The City of Portland’s City Organization project is creating a new reporting structure that can be managed by one city administrator, as required by the 2022 Charter Amendments. Transitioning away from the commission form of government allows for a whole-city approach to systems and problem-solving, which is an exciting opportunity for city government to serve all of Portland’s communities more efficiently.
Early this year, council directed the City’s chief administrative officer (CAO) to recommend a new reporting structure. Since then, council and the chief administrative officer partnered with bureau directors and other City leaders to develop a recommendation for a high-level reporting structure for the bureaus. Once implemented, the City’s 26 bureaus and offices will unite under the leadership of a city administrator who reports to the mayor. This is a change from the current structure, where bureaus report to one of five council members.
Why a new reporting structure is necessary
As displayed in the illustration below, if the current structure were to remain in place, the new city administrator would have 26 direct reports. This number of direct reports is unmanageable in any reporting structure -- in any industry sector.
Once approved by city council, the new reporting structure will support the new city administrator in 2025
The new discussion draft proposed by the CAO offers groupings of bureaus and programs with a logical nexus. The proposed structure intends to support the new administrator to manage the City’s operations effectively starting on their very first day.
To design the new organizational structure the City transition team worked with leadership and stakeholders to complete a series of programmatic assessments. For the most part, this draft chart does not represent major changes for most employees working for the City.
These changes were informed by:
- Ongoing collaboration with all bureaus and offices at the City to advocate for the needs of the City as a whole and to identify the benefits a new reporting structure will bring to our work,
- employees who participated in a citywide survey, and
- collective comments from multiple community engagement processes (summarized in the community outcomes report).
Draft organizational chart
The recommended organizational chart groups bureaus in service areas with a common focus, establishes deputy city administrators to lead them, and creates a new city administrator office and position. It also responds to community and employee priorities around elevating our equity work; standardizing City policies and processes; aligning bureaus with similar missions, nexus, and focus; fostering greater partnership between bureaus; and creating more coordination in our budgeting and planning processes. This increases accessibility and transparency and helps us be more responsive to our community’s needs.
The draft organizational chart, below, will be updated over the next few weeks and a final version will be shared with Council for their consideration on Oct. 19. It is imperative that the decision on the organizational structure be made this fall, so that the City can begin its robust budgeting process to inform the 2024-25 fiscal year budget.
Next steps and opportunities for feedback prior to September 29
- Employees and Portlanders can review the draft chart recommendation, and an accompanying memo that outlines key changes, as well as a community presentation.
- Employees and Portlanders can offer feedback using an anonymous feedback form until Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.
- Anyone can attend an online community information session on the evening of Wednesday, September 27, then offer feedback by completing the feedback form or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for the Charter Transition team to review and forward to city council in early October.
- City Council will first consider the proposed high-level organizational structure through a city council resolution presented by Chief Administrative Officer Mike Jordan at their session on Thursday, Oct. 19 and will make a final decision after the first reading. This resolution will include additional details about the draft chart, including staffing plans, implementation timelines, and future improvement recommendations.
- Then, City leaders and bureaus will shift focus to implementation. Implementation requires technical planning, ranging from budget preparations to human resource changes.
- Some changes will begin to go into effect in the new fiscal year that begins July 1, 2024.
- The new high-level organizational structure will in place by Jan. 1, 2025.