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Robert C. Bobb, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator
Testimony to the Committee on Government Operations on the
General Operations of the DC Government
October 8, 2004




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Executive Office of the Mayor

Robert C. Bobb
Deputy Mayor and City Administrator

Testimony of Robert C. Bobb
Deputy Mayor/City Administrator
District of Columbia Committee on Government Operations

A Public Oversight Roundtable on Updates from the District of Columbia Office of the City Administrator on the General Operations of the District of Columbia Government

October 8, 2004

Good morning Honorable Chairperson Orange and members of the committee. My name is Robert C. Bobb, City Administrator for the District of Columbia. I welcome this opportunity to speak to you this morning about some of the major efforts tam leading "on behalf of the Williams Administration.

Before I get Into the substance of the issues, I'd like to say a word about process. My office was informed that this roundtable had been scheduled when we were sent a copy of the announcement for the general public. The announcement listed as the topics for the roundtable a wide-ranging list of issues spanning baseball to contracting to juvenile justice to staffing changes. I am proud of what I've accomplished over the past year and stand ready to discuss any matter in any appropriate forum. These issues, however, seem to spill beyond the oversight boundaries of this Committee. Nevertheless, I am here to provide an update on the relevant issues noted on the announcement, but I do so with the expectation that I will not present the same information to this or other Council Committees in the near future.

I will start into the the substance of this update by first describing my approach to the long list of issues the hearing announcement identified. I came to the District government a year ago to raise the level of management and performance to a higher level.

Prior to my arrival, the Williams Administration had made great stride in professionalizing the organization, revolutionizing the technology, enhancing customer service, stimulating unprecedented economic development, and getting the District out from under the strain of court-imposed receiverships. I came here to pick up where my predecessor left off. My focus has essentially been in three places. One is fixing critical support functions that are not optimized to best serve the organization. Human sources and contracting and procurement fall in to this category. The second is stabilizing critical services of the government that were not best poised to serve District residents. Health and Youth Services fall into this category. The third are special projects, initiated to meet an unmet need or to achieve an unmet goal. Tie National Capital Medical Center, Medical Homes, baseball, and New Communities, fall into this third category.

Critical Support Functions

No organization can be successful in achieving its mission - the delivery of government services in our case - if it doesn't have the basic administrative tools in place. All of what we do as a government we either do with our own staff or with goods and services we buy. To the extent we can't recruit, hire, evaluate, reward, and retain staff, we can't be successful. And to the extent we can't efficiently procure products or contract for services, we similarly can't be successful.

I have tasked the Center for Innovation and Reform to address these two critical areas - Human Resources and Contracting & Procurement. I created the Center for Innovation and Reform in my office to lead efforts to strengthen management, increase productivity, decrease costs, reward creativity and innovation, and ultimately to increase resident satisfaction through more effective and efficient service delivery. Among the first tasks for the Center were these two areas - Human Resources and Contracting & Procurement.

For each of these areas, the Center has assembled an interdisciplinary team that is assessing the shortcomings, identifying international best practices in addressing those shortcomings, then putting into place an implementation plan to transform the organizations and the services they deliver. The initial assessments are completed in 90 days, at which point recommendations are reviewed and the action plan initiated. The work of this process will address not only the extraordinary issues, such as those recently discussed by this Committee regarding retroactive contract approvals and sole-source contracts. It will, more importantly, reform the underlying system:') that inhibit efficiency and effectiveness.

Contracting & Procurement

In terms of Contracting & Procurement, the Center for Innovation and Reform review of OCP was a rigorous process that involved input from many stakeholders, including the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Office of Local Business Development, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, the Executive Office of the Mayor and key service agencies. Importantly, vendors were part of the process. This allowed us to review the procurement process from the perspectives of all involved. Our goal was to create a credible, transparent process incorporating best practices and innovations.

As we began that process, it was clear that the agency lacked the necessary leadership to support the organizational change. The-Mayor and I decided that Herb Tillery, Deputy Mayor for Operations, was the person to drive the type of Worm needed in OCP and across the process (which involves the agencies, OCFO, 01-31), and OCTO). He has quickly assembled a leadership team that is working closely with Center for Innovation and Reform to immediately transform OCP.

Process The process to buy goods and services in the District is long and cumbersome. Some of the problem is due to an excessive number of reviews that are built into the process. For example, a small purchase requires on average five to seven approvals. As a result, the average number of days to approve a small purchase is 8.1 (based on YTD data available in August 2004): Additionally, key process partners, such as OCP, OLBD and OCFO, sometimes operate in silos rather than as partners in an integrated process. The Office of Local Business Development, for example, is not properly integrated into the procurement process although the organization plays a key role in ensuring local, small, and disadvantaged businesses - known as LSBDEs - have access to work.

Guidance and Consistency Customers and OCP staff report a lack of consistency in how work is done. This in part is due to a lack of written guidance:- There has been no comprehensive revision to 27 DCMR (the DC municipal regulation that outlines contracting and procurement) since 1988. in addition, different contract specialist and contracting officers require different information/documentation for similar types of procurements.

Enabling Technology PASS was introduced in the fall of 2003. The system, a part of ASMP, automates the buying process and facilitates online approval of payments. However, payments are not made electronically even though the District has the capability for electronic funds transfer. While PASS has reporting capabilities via the analysis module, OCP and the agencies are not yet fully utilizing the analysis tool.

Skills Alignment Key process partners must understand their roles and responsibilities and be equipped to perform their duties. This applies to OCP and agency staff. The agency employees tasked to prepare scopes of work and serve as contracting officer's technical representatives need to understand their responsibilities and the people who assign them need to take the roles seriously. Additionally, procurement staff needs to understand their duties, the regulations, and toe law and be able to provide clear, consistent guidance to their customers.

Recommendations and Next Steps The review undertaken by the Center for Innovation and Reform contains many recommendations for improving the procurement process, customer support, and opportunities for LSDBEs and aligning employee skills to the organization's needs. I will discuss key opportunities in this section

  1. Streamline Process
    One of the first things we are going to do is hold people accountable and begin to eliminate the number of repetitive reviews in the process. We also believe we can save time by creating a more collaborative and streamlined RFP development and distribution process that involves OCP, OCFO, CAG, and OLBD as appropriate to help agencies clarify their needs and prepare Statements of Work. We believe that if we work together to develop the SOW and supporting documentation, there will be less rework.
    Other recommendations to improve the process and create more shared responsibility and accountability include:
    1. involving OLBD earlier in the contracting process (while RFP is being developed) so that the representative can help OCP and the agency determine the number of LSDBEs with the requisite skills and structure the RFP accordingly;
    2. simplifying the process to procure small purchases - specifically we will investigate raising the small purchase threshold for large agencies, such as DOH and DHS to $500,000. While this would require legislative change, OCTO and MPD currently have their small purchase limit at this amount. We are also considering returning the $25,000 purchasing authority to the agencies provided we can tighten the pricing in the catalogs; and
    3. providing procedures and clear delineation of roles and responsibilities for contract monitoring. We are planning to work with the agencies to develop a contracting officer's technical representative certification program.
  2. Customer Support
    When OCP restructured around commodity groups, many agencies lost their in-house procurement support known as the Agency Chief Contracting Officer (ACCO). To improve customer support, we are considering alternative structures that would provide the leverage of commodity buying and provide a single point of contact for the agencies. One alternative is to keep the commodity structure, but create procurement managers, similar to the ACCOs, who would serve as a liaison between the agencies and the commodity groups, work in partnership with the agencies to manage the agency's service-level agreements or acquisition plans and attend senior staff meetings at the agencies. Additionally, we want to begin to use the SLAs as the planning tool they could be. We will begin to have quarterly meetings with the agencies to review their SLAs and progress toward their LSDBE goals. We will have OLBD and OCFO join us in these meetings. We think that monitoring the SLAs will help us help the agencies to plan better and to anticipate upcoming needs.
  3. Expand Opportunities for LSDBEs
    The relationship between the Office of Local Business Development and OCP is critical to ensuring greater opportunities for LSDBEs. While the government has made great strides in certifying businesses, there still exists a disconnect in the area of LSDBE opportunities. The CIR recommendations in this area include
    1. unbundling large procurements so that smaller firms can compete on components;
    2. facilitate the agencies' meeting the District's LSDBE utilization requirement in all of our contracts by tracking data in PASS, reviewing the agency service level agreements to identify LSDBE opportunities;
    3. building prime contractor compliance monitoring into contract administration and monitoring; and
    4. creating mechanisms to link small businesses to prime contractors through a database of upcoming subcontracting opportunities and a database of small businesses looking for subcontracting opportunities. Importantly, we plan to fix the DC Supply Schedule notation and communicate the new process to vendors and create a software tool to help create consistency in the notation process.
  4. Align Skills and Needs
    The employee skills alignment with the organizational needs will occur as we decide what functions we want the agency to support. The recommendations in this area include:
    1. determining what skills are required at all levels and for all functions of the organization;
    2. determining if there exists a skill gaps (include basic technology skills) between current state and new operating paradigm;
    3. reviewing all position descriptions to revise them where necessary; and
    4. creating a culture of accountability - reward good performance and penalize non-performers.

The Office of Contracting and Procurement is working in concert with the Center for Innovation and Reform to aggressively tackle many of the findings I have described and implement these recommendations. I am confident that we will see reform to the agency's business process in the near future.

Human Resources

The Center for Innovation and Reform is undertaking a similar review of the Office of Personnel. There is less to report in this area because the process is not as fan along. We have recruited and appointed a new Personnel Director, who began work this week. She will be working with the Center for Innovation and Reform to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations for DCOP in the coming weeks.

Critical Services

I will now shift gears and discuss a few critical services to which I have given significant attention in the past year. The most prominent of these are the Department of Health and the Youth Services Administration.

Department of Health

During my first six months on the job, I spent a disproportionate amount of time dealing with Department of Health issues. First and foremost, I worked with DOH and OCFO staff to renegotiate the terms of the Health Care Alliance contract. The resulting contract resulted in reduced costs to the District combined with enhanced management of performance. The negotiation process also helped to improve relations between the District and heath care providers.

In the course of working on the Alliance, deeper problems within the Department of Health became apparent. A review of these problems called for a change in leadership, and in March, the Mayor and I sent Deputy Mayor Herb Tillery to the Department as Interim Director. Herb's charge was to rebuild staff morale, restore public confidence, and improve the administrative systems of the Department. After a three-month period, the restructuring of the Department began, which included reducing the size of administrations, increasing support for Senior Deputy Directors, stabilizing the Director's Office, and providing greater program cohesiveness.

To restructure the organization, the former 350+ FTE Environmental Health Administration (EHA) was divided into Environmental Health Administration (230 FTE) and the Health Care Regulation and Licensing Administration (100 FTE) At the same time, the Public Health Laboratory (24 FTE) was moved from EHA into the Primary Care and Prevention Administration. The HIV/AIDS Administration was separated from the Health Promotion Administration and now functions as a direct report to :he DOH Director. These changes have created a more rational and manageable organization, which will enable improved accountability and performance.

To improve the organization of upper management, the positions of Assistant Deputy Director and Deputy Administrator were eliminated in each administration. New positions entitled the Chief of Staff and Administrative Services Manager were created to provide better support for each of the Senior Deputy Directors. The Chief of Staff provides leadership and management for strategic planning, research, policy development, governmental relations, communications, and customer service. The Administrative Services Manager is responsible for budgeting and fiscal management, grants management, personnel management, labor relations, facilities management, risk management, information technology and telecommunications. This structure mirrors the composite of the Office of Director and allows for continuous communication and enhanced management of all programs.

To stabilize the Director's Office, The Communications division has been restructured to include the areas of marketing, customer service, community relations, and public information. A government relations division has been created to act as a liaison between the legislative branch of government and the Department. The Chief of Grants Management has been empowered to review all grant applications for funding and all sub recipient agreements. This has resulted in improved consistency of applications and accuracy of information, plus will generate a reduced rate of sole source grants to sub recipients. The creation of a Risk Management committee that involves representation across the department has strengthened risk management. In addition, an Unusual Incident Reporting policy was adopted and distributed across the department. Departmental contracting and procurement functions have been greatly improved and violations of District policy are being pursued. 

And in terms of personnel, Dr. Gregg Pane has been appointed as the department's Acting Director and Monica Lamboy as the department's Chief Operating Officer. We are confident with this new leadership the Department of Health will be successful in its efforts to create a healthier DC.

The foregoing changes helped to stabilize and strengthen the organization. We have also begun looking at ways of improving performance throughout tie department. The division of Office of Primary Care, Prevention and Planning has been restructured. In addition, a Cancer Health Care Bureau has been created to address one of the most prevalent and deadly diseases in the District of Columbia. This restructure placed all cancer programs under one umbrella in order to maximize resources, aid to address this issue in a holistic manner, which we believe will lead to better health outcomes. The Preventive Health Services Bureau and the Clinical Affairs Bureau have been eliminated. The tuberculosis program has been moved to the Bureau of Communicable diseases. The cardiovascular program, diabetes control program, DC Courts program, preventive health block activity program, University of the District of Columbia program have been moved to the Bureau of Primary Care.

There will be additional reforms in the Department of Health in the areas of Health Promotion, Emergency Health Medical Services Administration, and the Policy divisions. All of these changes are geared towards improving the services and performance of the Department of Health.

Youth Services Administration

Turning to the Youth Services Administration, we are now working ha id-in-hand with the Jerry M Consent Decree plaintiffs - a departure from the previous 17 years of an adversarial and not very productive relationship during which improvements in youth services were difficult to identify. I am personally leading the effort for the District, talking weekly with the plaintiffs and, at times, daily with our team to transform YSA into a model organization for dealing with our troubled youth while at the same time getting the District out of the consent decree.

Since the Mayor and I put our team in place last December, we have made great strides in terms of:

  • stabilizing the organization
  • putting basic policies and procedures in place o strengthening and professionalizing security
  • enhancing training
  • establishing group home licensing, to be complete by January
  • improving coordination with APRA and DMH to ensure YSA youth get the substance abuse and mental health services they need
  • working on a new step-down program to better prepare and equip youth to face the challenges of being released from secure programs with a better chance for success in school and in the work force
  • to the extent possible, improving physical conditions at Oak HiII
  • overseeing the development and planning for the opening of the new Youth Services Center

The new Youth Services Center will open December and will serve youth detained while waiting to go to court. Programs to be offered at the new center include:

  • Promotion of Education
  • Mental health,
  • Substance abuse,
  • Law enforcement, and
  • Court services

Co-location of these services will provide better sharing of information between agencies dealing with juvenile justice and better planning for intervention in the life of youths who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. The facility is a state-ofthe-art design and resolves many of the issues and problems that were inherent in the use of the older buildings on the Oak Hill grounds

More broadly, YSA has established a vision for the future of juvenile justice. YSA's Blueprint for Tomorrow, published in June 2004 and shared with the Council, integrates many of the aspirations of the Blue Ribbon Commission report and will be the guiding principles to reform our juvenile justice services and program delivery in the District. Based on the Blueprint, we have negotiated and begun implementing a Health and Safety work plan to address priority health, safety and security issues. We are now starting to negotiate the balance of the work plan which is due with the court on November 15th. And to help us with all of this planning, we have engaged national juvenile justice experts to assist in the design and implementation of services and programs that go beyond the minimal standards required by the consent decree.

One of our steps in achieving the vision calls for elevating YSA to cabinet status. On September 20, 2004, the Mayor submitted the "Youth Services Agency Establishment Act of 2004," to Council, which was introduced by Chairman Cropp and referred to the Human Services Committee. Elevating YSA would do the following:

  • Send a clear message that rehabilitation of the youth in our juvenile justice system is a priority
  • Set YSA apart from the larger Department of Human Services to focus YSA on its goals
  • Streamline the organizational structure, empower its leadership, and enhance its capacity to get things done efficiently and effectively
  • Attract youth services leadership

On the last point, we are aggressively working to identify a YSA Agency Director. We now have two good candidates, which the plaintiffs are meeting and we are interviewing this week. We are on track with our ambitious goal to announce the appointment of a new Director by October 15.

We're excited about the path we're on with YSA and are confident that this path is helping us to better serve our troubled youth and to get them back on a good track.

Special Projects

I'll conclude with a brief update on a few special projects I have been leading in the past year.

National Capital Medical Center

My work with the Department of Health made apparent gaps not only in our own organization, but in the delivery of health care more generally. To that e id, the Mayor and I have been moving forward on two fronts. First, we are actively supporting the Medical Homes DC initiative, which is designed to improve the quantity and quality of accessible primary health care for the District's medically underserved. Second, we are working with Howard University to explore the development of the National Capital Medical Center.

In March 2004, Council approved the National Capital Medical Center Memorandum of Understanding Approval Act of 2004. This MOU between the Mayor and the President of Howard University stated that the University would build, own and operate a new hospital with 200 to 300 beds and a Level-One trauma center on a, portion of US Reservation 13, the former site of DC General Hospital, to be provided through a 99year lease by the District.

Since the approval of the Act, District and Howard officials have engaged in a number of productive discussions about the vision for the NCMC. The parties have agreed that the NCMC will be a world-class, high quality, comprehensive academic medical center serving the entire National Capital Region and beyond. It will attract a balanced patient base, serving a full spectrum of the District's population and emerging as the hospital of choice for community residents and a destination hospital for key specialties. It will train outstanding new physicians and allied health professionals, foster cutting-edge medical research and serve as an economic growth engine for the new Hill East neighborhood. Importantly, it will achieve sustainable operating performance.

The NCMC will differentiate itself from other hospitals in several ways It will be an all-digital facility, with state-of-the-art medical equipment, patient safety systems and clinical information systems. As the first hospital built in the nation's capilal since 9/11, it will include special facilities to serve the region in the event of a homeland security disaster. The NCMC will be a backbone of the community's system of care, with a focus on prevention and wellness. Finally, it will be a locus of ground-breaking clinical and applied research that advances the overall state of medicine and improves health care outcomes.

Now that the high-level vision for the NCMC has been established, the University and the District are working to develop the comprehensive financial analysis report required by the Act to define all costs related to development, construction and operation of the National Capital Medical Center (NCMC). It is our understanding that Howard University has hired several reputable consulting firms to assist them in strategic, financial and architectural planning. In addition, the OCA has hired Stroudwater Associates, a healthcare facilities planning firm, to advise the District. On September 21, 2004, the City Administrator forwarded a memo from the Chief Financial Officer to Dr. Hassan Minor, SVP of Howard University, outlining the information needed from the University in order to complete the comprehensive financial analysis report required by the MOU. Once this information has been received and reviewed, the OCA and OCFO will work with the University to develop a financing plan to be approved by the Council.

In the meantime, the OCA has been working with ODMPED, DOH, OCFO, OP, and OPM and to lay the groundwork for this exciting project. The team is developing financing options and establishing the value of the land to be leased to the University and the cost of the necessary infrastructure development on the property. In addition, the District's consultants, Stroudwater Associates, have completed an analysis of the public health services that currently exist on Reservation 13 and delivered recommendations for how to configure those services once the old hospital buildings are razed and the new neighborhood is built. The District is now in the process of reviewing those recommendations and incorporating them into the planning process for Reservation 13. Finally, District agencies have been meeting regularly to coordinate the development of the new medical center with the development of the surrounding Hill East neighborhood on Reservation 13.

Major League Baseball

In the past week, we've all heard a lot about the exciting prospect of the return of Major League Baseball to the District of Columbia.

[insert text from Steve [Green, Special Assistant to the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development] here]

The foregoing does not begin to scratch the surface of the general operations of the District government from my perspective. It merely highlights some of the more significant items listed in the oversight roundtable announcement. I did not detail other significant aspects of operations I've been driving, such as the following:

  1. violent crime hot spots initiative, which is bringing to bear the full resources of the government to target neighborhoods that have been besieged by crime;
  2. the New Communities initiative, which would provide the resources and planning necessary to transform some of those neighborhoods
  3. homeland security, which has intensified due to the recent elevation of the threat level to orange, as has my involvement, as Acting Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice;
  4. budget development, which I call the Superbowl of government, and through which we hope to position the government to be properly resourced so that it can best deliver services

I thank you for the opportunity to address you this morning. ... This concludes my testimony. I am available to answer any questions the Committee may have.

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