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Augusta Commission considers hiring 'efficiency expert'

Retreat facilitator may get hired to do study

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Hiring an outside, unbiased “efficiency expert” to examine Augusta departments gained traction on the second day of a mayor and commission retreat Friday.

The mayor and commission again expressed willingness to hire Malik Watkins, one of the retreat facilitators, to perform an efficiency study of Augusta government.

While the commission has authorized – and shelved – numerous studies over the years, hiring Watkins could “head us in the right direction of better government, and more satisfaction from our government,” Commissioner Bill Lockett said.

Watkins, who helped commissioners focus on “solutions” rather than the problems themselves when they broke into small groups at the retreat, said he’d performed a similar efficiency study of departments in Brunswick, Ga.

He begins the study by examining the mission of each and how it contributes to the city’s overall mission, then looks at the types of management controls in place.

The study is entirely data-driven, allowing departments to “dig deeply” into long-held assumptions, Watkins said.

Bill Weeks, the city manager in Brunswick, said he’d been pleased with Watkins’ work.

While Watkins initially quoted the city about $30,000 to study all city departments, Brunswick opted, due to its own budgetary constraints, to hire him to conduct only a first phase of the study for approximately $13,000, Weeks said.

Phase 1 included a financial analysis and profit-loss statements of Brunswick’s recreation, police, and public works departments, Weeks said.

It helped Brunswick determine whether it needed to increase revenues and fees, as well as identify the potential for “alternatives or partnerships” for how the city provides services, Weeks said.

“We asked him to sort of dissect our financials,” Weeks said, and Watkins got in deep over a period of about six months with everyone from department heads to low-level staff, Weeks said.

“It worked out very well for us and Malik is a very good guy for the job,” he said. “The interpersonal relationships he can have with supervisors and managers make them feel at ease, like we’re not after your job.”

City Administrator Fred Russell said he was researching Watkins’ background Friday. Watkins, an employee of Carl Vinson Institute of Government, has a Ph.D. from Ohio State University and prior experience as director of survey research at Savannah State University with expertise in planning, program and policy evaluation and operational audits, according to his staff bio.

The mayor and commission agreed at the retreat to hold regular goal-setting meetings with the administrator, ensure consistency and thoroughness in interpersonal as well as public communications and generally try to get along.

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Clemintime
195
Points
Clemintime 02/18/12 - 06:37 am
0
0
Although I am aware that it

Although I am aware that it would take a little more effort, I sincerely hope the mayor and the commission would "genuinely try to get along" as opposed to "generally try to get along".

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 02/18/12 - 07:00 am
0
0
If my boss needed to "hire"

If my boss needed to "hire" someone to tell me how to do the job that I was hired (elected) to do.............I would not have a job very long. Yet Augusta voters bend over backwards to keep these misfits in charge. WHY AUGUSTA VOTERS, DO YOU DO THIS?

JRC2024
8854
Points
JRC2024 02/18/12 - 10:14 am
0
0
The reate increase has

The reate increase has already started. The min. building permit went from $21 to $67 in RC on Jan 1. The min. in CC is $50

whatsupwiththat
1
Points
whatsupwiththat 02/18/12 - 10:30 am
0
0
Following review of Mr.

Following review of Mr. Watkins resume, one may conclude that, like so many other "experts", it doesn't appear he has ever held a real job. It's hard to imagine we don't already pay someone to do what Mr. Watkins proposes to do. Oh yeah - Fred Russell can do that - but any time Mr. Russell suggests a solution that actually requires a reduction in services or personnel, no one is listening. We may as well use the money to purchase "air rights" on another piece of downtown property. At least it will provide some entertainment value.

eb97
835
Points
eb97 02/18/12 - 10:56 am
0
0
I have heard how good Mr.

I have heard how good Mr. Watkins is at what he does but what is going to happen when he disagrees with the Mayor and the noted 6 commissioners in how they operate in respect to the other commissioners? Can we say, " You're Fired."

tanbaby
1293
Points
tanbaby 02/18/12 - 11:23 am
0
0
how about they all stop
Unpublished

how about they all stop acting like a bunch of freaking bosses and start doing what we pay them to do...work for us.....

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 02/18/12 - 11:56 am
0
0
It's not at all suspicious

It's not at all suspicious that commissioners have already hired this guy without knowing his price, qualifications, his contract, or what he will actually do.

Anytime someone wants to skip the bid process to hire someone specifically you should be concerned.

One question for any commissioner... Why are you avoiding putting out an RFP?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 02/18/12 - 12:01 pm
0
0
Yes, folks, it's deja vu all

Yes, folks, it's deja vu all over again. No one has a shorter memory than an Augusta commissioner, except for maybe the voters who put them in office.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/government/2011-09-24/augusta-has-litt...

Riverman1
83904
Points
Riverman1 02/18/12 - 12:03 pm
0
0
I think what we really need

I think what we really need is an INefficiency expert.

Isn't this like saying everything we've been doing is wrong and we have to bring in someone to straighten it all out? Are they admitting Bill Lockett was right and everything needs to be looked at?

Riverman1
83904
Points
Riverman1 02/18/12 - 12:07 pm
0
0
Two Commissioners are now

Two Commissioners are now talking about getting out of Dodge. I think the handwriting is on the wall with the TEE and other boondoggles. Nobody wants to be in charge as the mess finally surfaces like a bag of garbage somebody took out in the river and sunk with a concrete block finally breaks open.

Lori Davis
920
Points
Lori Davis 02/18/12 - 12:15 pm
0
0
Looking forward to that

Looking forward to that Riverman. I think the general public who is so ill informed by reading the AC will be very surprised at what eventually surfaces. I for one will, "celebrate like it's 1999," on that day!!!!

Riverman1
83904
Points
Riverman1 02/18/12 - 12:20 pm
0
0
Really. Let's do like the

Really. Let's do like the state does with underperforming school districts and just appoint a czar to run it all. If we are going to pay Watkins to straighten things out just make him the boss and forget all this other subterfuge.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 02/18/12 - 12:37 pm
0
0
I think you already have a
Unpublished

I think you already have a commission full of INefficiency experts!!

eb97
835
Points
eb97 02/18/12 - 02:27 pm
0
0
I'm with you Riverman1.

I'm with you Riverman1.

dichotomy
32928
Points
dichotomy 02/18/12 - 03:04 pm
0
0
Oh yes, they all go to the

Oh yes, they all go to the retreats and play kissy kissy and by the time they get back to the commission chambers they have all put the horse's patootie costumes back on again.

The reason the commissioners keep hiring out these "studies" is that not one of them has got the smarts, courage, or the intelligence to make a decision. They keep hiring outsiders and praying that somebody will tell them how to get out of this mess THEY have created.

I'm really surprised Paul and the LLC boys haven't gotten into the "study" business but I guess the commissioners are giving them plenty enough taxpayer money without them have to actually put anything in writing.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 02/18/12 - 03:36 pm
0
0
I think they keep hiring

I think they keep hiring outsiders hoping to eventually find someone who will tell them exactly what they want to hear and also as a diversion tactic to make the citizens believe they are really trying to do right.

The only way to successfully work with a consultant, is to have the complete authority to make the changes, commitment to doing something different, and the ongoing accountability of the plan. Can anyone see any of that happening? It's another study, stuck in another file, to gather more dust and it's not cheap. But why would that matter among friends?

Throw every one of them in jail and start over is a more workable and cost efficient plan. This is really a more serious matter, than many have yet to consider. What could a commissioner possibly make or gain to make this worth it? I would run away from this group as quickly as I could get out of my chair.

Sweet son
10398
Points
Sweet son 02/18/12 - 03:37 pm
0
0
Almost sounds like Weeks is

Almost sounds like Weeks is working for Watkins. How about some more testimonials!

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 02/18/12 - 04:05 pm
0
0
Augusta studies by the

Augusta studies by the numbers...

- 10 studies
- 15 years
- 0 implemented
- $1,709,265 of tax money flushed down the commode

Any questions?

eb97
835
Points
eb97 02/18/12 - 04:22 pm
0
0
@ Insider, No sir, not a one,

@ Insider, No sir, not a one, thank you.

raul
4868
Points
raul 02/18/12 - 09:12 pm
0
0
Don't they understand what

Don't they understand what this really means? It is an admission that they are incapable of doing the job they were elected to do.

KSL
129489
Points
KSL 02/18/12 - 09:48 pm
0
0
They certainly seem to be

They certainly seem to be enamored with hiring consultants to do studies and then hiring an efficiency expert. Money poured into cadilac downtown projects that turned out to be unsustainable.

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