Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Study says Ga. county has too many employees

Associated Press - April 27, 2010 7:24 AM ET

DECATUR, Ga. (AP) - A study conducted by Georgia State University says DeKalb County's government has too many managers and should lay off at least 909 employees.

The DeKalb County Commission arranged the study in December while it dealt with a budget shortfall that has reached $100 million.

Results released to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday say extra layers of management add costs and make it unclear who's in charge and slow down routine actions.

DeKalb has about the same number of residents as Cobb and Gwinnett counties, but has twice as many workers.

Commissioner Lee May, who suggested the study, says it does not take into account that 582 workers are leaving next month under an early retirement program.

Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com


I'm just sharing this item because I think if a similar audit was done to DeKalb county schools, we would find similar bloat but to a lesser degree (at least the school system doesn't have twice as many employees as other school systems!) The worry is that the retirement pensions for all of these extra employees will literally break the backs of the taxpayers - as we now see happening in the city of Atlanta.


Anonymous said...

I read that article today and I said, "Shades of DCSS!" Isn't that what we've said on this blog all along. DCSS has added too many employees in the admin and service end while cutting teachers. Here's the address to the full article:

Quote from AJC:
"....show DeKalb’s extra layers of management not only add costs but add ambiguity about who’s in charge, slow routine actions and impede decision-making, the researchers said." Sound familiar DCSS parents/taxpapers?

The study recommended layoffs, outsourcing and consolidating departments and jobs.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Tyson should begin an audit of the DeKalb County School System's employees as soon as possible.

The results of the last Ernst and Young audit that DeKalb taxpayers paid $341,000 for should be made public.

Have you read the article entitled "How Much Have Non-Teaching Salary Overpayments Cost DeKalb Schools Taxpayers in the last 5 years? $9,000,000 or $70,000,000"

DeKalb Watch posted it earlier this month about a similar audit started under Dr. Brown but finished under Dr. Lewis, go to this address and read it:

Millions dollars of overpayments in non-teaching areas and no action taken.

Anonymous said...

let's see--if 30% of the county budget has 900 excessive employees, then 70% of the budget . . .
I know it's not that simple (it would work out to 2100 excess) but it does seem we have yet another marker here

Anonymous said...

Well, DUH! All the blatantly obvious, shocking news in the world won't change anything until somebody stands up and causes some ACTION.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

Big surprise.

I briefly did contract work for DeKalb County, first week I worked there I was told to "slow down, you're making the rest of us look bad." Lots of people, sitting at desks and standing around. I guess if a county employee is only productive 25% of their time at work, more employees are required to complete the work.

To borrow from a frequent blogger - cynical? yes!

Anonymous said...

Two words: Defined contribution!


We need a defined contribution retirement plan for all non-teachers. Defined benefit retirement programs are very expensive, but our teachers deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Is Vernon behind it all in both places?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that we have 900 surplus employees...and a shortage of hundreds of police officers. It seems similar to DCSS - if we could just easily transfer a few hundred from the county office to the classroom, we'd save millions in the pay deduction alone!

Kim Gokce said...

While I'm with the sentiment of my fellow bloggers here on this one, let's make sure we have the full story.

Lee May seems to be saying that there nearly 900 accounted for in the buyouts being offered. See:

DeKalb Leaders Speak Out ..."

If there is any validity to his observation, I think we should also keep in mind that our governments grew with the economy and the property tax base. Whether they should have is another question, but it does seem that they are quickly, even if lagging reality, shrinking (at least at the local level).

Am I saying that the right mix of employees is at DeKalb? No, our govt should always be pushed to adjust its priorities to ours. I'm simply saying that we need the full story.

Kim Gokce said...

The point of the GSU report that is undoubtedly valid, and that is valid for DCSS, is the observation about too many layers of management.

THAT! That has to stop ...

Anonymous said...

Ha ha ha ha. My GF heard an ad on the radio for the DCSS job website advertising for teachers.

Anonymous said...

Continue to be cynical. So ~500 employees are gone through attrition and removing their positions.....ARE they the RIGHT positions? Or are they, again, simply the worker bees? I suspect that it is highly probable that some of the true workers are exiting, leaving behind more work for the front lines. There's no real incentive for those in managerial positions to leave, and that's where the money is.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much DeKalb county paid for this study? I bet Ga State is much cheaper than E&Y. Ramona Tyson should be talking to them.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:32 pm
Very astute observation.

Anonymous said...

Anyone that deals with DeKalb County government regularly will find Ms. Woodworth’s comments to be spot on. As heartless as this may sound, many government employees would not survive in the private sector. Commissioner May commissioned this study to show that the county was doing a great job only to be embarrassed that the county government was found to be a bloated, bureaucratic nightmare. Believe me, DeKalb County has a lot of pruning to do.

From the 04/27/2010 6:31 PM AJC version of this article:

Some residents said Tuesday they want to see DeKalb downsize and fear that the $10,000 study will just be placed on a shelf.

From the 04/26/2010 11:03 PM AJC version of this article:

Some county administrators were upset about the findings, particularly that DeKalb has too many
managers, Streib said. (GSU public management and policy professor Greg Streib) “There was a lot of behind-the-scene politicking about what became public and when we presented it,” he told the AJC. “The fact is when it comes to running DeKalb County, it’s hard to say if they do things well. But the fact that they have more people [on the payroll compared to other counties] attracts a lot of attention.”

DeKalb government compared to Cobb, Gwinnett

DeKalb County

Number of county employees: 8,077
Population: 739,956
Square miles: 268
Residents below poverty level: 14.4 percent

Gwinnett County

Number of county employees: 4,806
Population: 797,422
Square miles: 437
Residents below poverty level: 8.4 percent

Cobb County

Number of county employees: 4,644
Population: 698,158
Square miles: 340
Residents below poverty level: 9.4 percent

Source: Georgia State University study

Examples of DeKalb problems cited in study:

• DeKalb’s board of commissioners has doubled its staff in the past few years, now totaling 34. Many of those workers only transfer constituent complaints to other departments, the study found. Gwinnett’s commission has nine employees and Cobb’s has 10.

• DeKalb’s fleet maintenance department has a staff of 177. Cobb’s has 36 and Gwinnett’s has 49.
DeKalb sends one employee out to check on a fire station maintenance problem and then sends another out to do the repairs.

• The study found that 349 of DeKalb’s employees made 20 percent of their salary by working overtime. In 2009, the county spent $8.8 million on overtime.

• Some county employees, including seven in the CEO’s office, are paid from a budget different than the department they work for. The CEO has one communications writer who is paid from the water
department and a constituent services specialist paid by information systems.

Anonymous said...

What do you want to bet that many of them have relatives in admin and support positions in DCSS?

Did the Ernst and Young Compensation and Classification audit that Dr. Lewis suppressed show the same kinds of inefficiencies. The BOE minutes already showed that Dr. Lewis knew there was $1,800,000 in annual salary overpayments to non-teaching personnel (news reports said $14,000,000 annually).

Ms. Tyson should make this audit accessible to taxpayers.

BOE minutes 12/5/2005:
"Regarding the compensation portion, he (Lewis) referred to the inaccurate news story that reported an overpayment in salaries in the amount of $14 million and clarified that the figure was totally erroneous and the actual amount was $1.8 million. He stated that at the beginning of the study, 15,000 employees were told that they would not lose salary as a result of the study and he plans to stay true to his word.”

Kim Gokce said...

Well dem deres some pretty damning figures in the GSU report, I must say. Thanks for posting some of the details.

As an organizational analysis, it sounds like there's important items for the County to follow-up on. Some of it is probably news to some of the leaders.

Has anyone seen a direct link to the GSU report? I'm wondering if it talks about service levels or offerings as a factor. For example, does working with MARTA increase DeKalb's over head? Do Gwinnett and Cobb have departments like "One DeKalb." This is Ellis' "community engagement" department.

As for DCSS and its E&Y audit, shouldn't that be available via a simple open records request? Has this been tried by anyone yet?

I think it might be as easy as a letter stating precisely the document we're after ...

Cerebration said...

So, the report says that not only do we have nearly twice as many employees as other counties - but our employees have to work overtime to get the job done?!

Kim Gokce said...

To answer one of my questions above and, thanks to DeKalbOfficers blog, here is the GSU report:


Cerebration said...

Awesome! Thanks to DeKalb Officers and Kim for sending us the link to that report!