North Carolina Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett Aug. 7 announced a number of organizational changes within the N.C. Department of Transportation to strengthen the agency’s operations and improve efficiency in delivering transportation projects across all modes.
“With demand on the state’s transportation system increasing, the cost of doing business rising and revenues remaining relatively flat, we cannot continue to do business as usual,” Tippett said.
“We sought input from our employees and an outside consultant, and identified our strengths and areas that needed improvement. We have already implemented measures to make the department more results-driven and accountable and more improvement will come. By making these organizational changes, we will save time and money in project and program delivery and be better able to meet North Carolina’s 21st century transportation needs.”
The changes come after an 18-month internal review and are aimed at making the agency more strategic, accountable, efficient and effective in its delivery of transportation projects, programs and services. The changes will be accomplished by reassigning existing positions. Managers will begin implementing them immediately and the new organizational structure should be in place by Sept. 2.
Units within the department are being aligned with six strategic functions. The six functions, with high-level highlights of the organizational changes, include:
• Organization, Monitoring, Communication and Control — This overarching function is responsible for overseeing and evaluating the day-to-day operations of the department to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.
Under this function, the chief deputy secretary will now be titled the chief operating officer and will be responsible for the oversight and management of all departmental operations, expanding the position’s role to managing program delivery.
An Office of Inspector General is being established to oversee risk management and auditing functions, as well as operational performance and best practices within NCDOT. This will eliminate the previous segmented structure of the department’s auditing functions and enhance audit coverage and scope. The inspector general will report directly to the secretary of transportation.
Additionally, a Strategic Management Committee and Organizational Governance Office are being established. Committee members will include the department’s executive staff who will be responsible for developing strategic direction. The governance office will ensure that the committee’s initiatives are carried out by the responsible units.
• Transportation Strategy and Investment Analysis — This function will develop, monitor and manage strategic plans and investment alternatives based on the long-range multi-modal transportation needs of the state.
The Strategic Planning Office of Transportation was created in December 2007 to manage the strategic planning and prioritization process for the department. The office is implementing a framework that will be used to evaluate projects, programs, services and initiatives across the department to ensure they align with the department’s established priorities.
• Transportation Business Administration – This function will provide the day-to-day business administration and supportive services of the agency.
The department is consolidating existing civil rights functions into a single office to provide comprehensive nondiscrimination oversight that includes Equal Employment Opportunity, Title VI and VII Administration and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The existing Office of Civil Rights’ Business Development Unit and the On-the-Job Training Unit are being consolidated to create the Business Opportunity and Workforce Development Office. This office will provide comprehensive business and workforce development services to increase business opportunities for small, disadvantaged, minority and women businesses.
• Process Management — This function will provide the technical services to improve delivery of projects, programs, services and initiatives.
The department is consolidating several units into a newly created Division of Technical Services to provide a more efficient and accountable delivery process. The goal is to minimize the amount of time business units spend on the administration end of project delivery and allow them to focus on the technical aspects. This division will report to the Chief Operating Officer and will provide support for multi-modal project delivery.
• Transportation Program and Asset Management — This function will provide the day-to-day central management, expertise and administration of highway and multi-modal transportation programs.
The department is creating a Transportation Mobility and Safety Division, which will oversee several units responsible for planning, designing and implementing projects and initiatives to ensure the state’s highway system moves people and goods safely, efficiently and effectively.
• Transportation Program Delivery — This function manages the day-to-day delivery of the projects, programs, services and initiatives that NCDOT manages.
The 14 divisions that previously were highway focused will be transitioned to transportation divisions with a multi-modal outlook that includes highways, transit, rail, aviation and bicycle and pedestrian needs and projects. This will provide a more comprehensive local approach to delivering an interconnected transportation network.
“Reducing layers within the department and streamlining the way we deliver projects, will reduce the amount of time it takes to get projects on the ground, translating into both time and dollar savings down the road,” said Deputy Secretary for Transit Roberto Canales, who has been overseeing this effort.
In spring 2007, NCDOT began an extensive internal review of the agency and its operations. The review identified challenges that needed to be addressed in order to make the most effective use of its resources. These challenges included:
• A silo culture resulting in limited coordination among business units
• Insufficient accountability for delivery of projects and programs
• Inconsistent coordination across geographic regions in planning, designing, delivering and maintaining projects
• Slow decision-making processes with too many layers.
Over the past 18 months, the department has begun implementing changes to address these challenges and other needs identified. An executive dashboard reporting system was launched on NCDOT’s Web site at www.ncdot.org to report the agency’s performance in meeting its goals. A new performance management system was implemented earlier this year for the top leadership positions responsible for delivering projects and programs. It will be effective for all employees beginning in spring 2009.