Part I: Descriptive Memo
Public administrators have a wide range of employment opportunities including serving as city managers. One of the critical requirements for one to be hired as a city manager is an undergraduate or master’s degree in public administration. They are tasked with ensuring that city governments operate with the efficiency of successful businesses. City managers are often chosen by elected officials and have the option of working part time or full time for small or large cities. The District of Columbia is one of the major cities in the U.S. with Rashad M. Young as its manager or administrator. Young’s appointment as Washington D.C.’s administrator came in January 2015, and he has served till present.
Young carries out his responsibilities with the help of a workforce of around 35,000 employees working with a budget estimated to be $13 billion annually. One of his primary duties is serving on behalf of the Mayor to ensure accountable, well-managed, and efficient delivery of service to all residents, visitors, and businesses within the city. Also, he is responsible for overseeing various city departments that take care of multiple utilities and service delivery (Meier, 2018). Some of these departments include community development, water and sewer, finance, fire, building and inspections, police, and library. In the case of an emergency, Young as the city administrator has to inform the mayor and the city council of the emergency situation and advise on how to overcome the same. Young sets goals and takes part in Washington D.C.’s futuristic planning processes aimed at improving the city’s infrastructure as well as ensuring the effective management of finance. Mr. Young also focuses on the improvement of the city’s operations and oversight, ensuring transparency and responsibility in the city’s budgeting process, ensuring quality improvement in the city’s programs and services, as well as improving communication and coordination between various city agencies.
Mr. Young’s success thus far can be linked to the favorable environment of operation. There is a perfect leadership structure with the Mayor serving as the executive head with the primary duty of enforcing city laws and either approving or vetoing bills passed by the city council. The Council is tasked with ensuring that every official including the Mayor operates in compliance with the law. Other structures that work closely with Mr. Young in his city administrator position are the judiciary, city departments, and agencies. The office of the City Administrator is always open from Monday to Friday between 9 am and 6 pm except for District and national holidays. The fact that the city administrator position is not an elective position but an appointive position means that there is no specific tenure or duration in office (Meier, 2018). Young has previously worked as a city manager of Alexandria where he was appointed to the position in 2011 becoming the city’s youngest and first city manager of African American descent. He later resigned as Alexandria’s city manager on January 1, 2015, upon appointment as the city administrator of Washington D.C. He is expected to hold the position for years to come provided he is in good terms with the city’s Mayor.
Mr. Young’s primary clients are the city’s residents, businesses, and visitors to whom he ensures effective, well-managed, and accountable service delivery. Mr. Young faces several challenges when it comes to executing his duties as the city administrator of the District of Columbia. Some of these include consequences of actions taken by the federal district, budget and financial constraints that interfere with service delivery, poor relationships with individual council and board members, conflicts or disagreements with council officials concerning issues related to planning and development, as well as poor relationships with employee groups and other unions. Also, Mr. Young’s responsibilities are often adversely affected by ineffective and improper policies formulated by the city council. At times, members of the council prioritize their selfish interests and agendas at the expense of those of the citizens. As a result, they formulate policies that tend to push for their selfish plans thereby interfering with service delivery to citizens that remains a primary responsibility of a city administrator (Meier, 2018). The lack of well-defined roles for individuals in various administrative positions is another obstacle faced by Young in the execution of responsibilities. As already mentioned, District of Columbia is structured in a way that the overall administrator is the Mayor who appoints and delegates duties to the city administrator. The responsibilities of the Mayor and those of the city administrator are almost similar bringing forth the issue of lack of well-defined roles for individuals in various administrative positions.
In his position, Mr. Young’s responsibilities or functions are almost similar to those of chief executives of organizations or businesses. A significant difference is that as a city administrator, Young primarily acts as a liaison between various levels including the bureaucracy, elected officials, and the public (Meier, 2018). Unlike organizational chief executives, Young is involved in politics in one way or another as well as policymaking. He also showcases decision-making capabilities that are integral when it comes to overseeing service delivery.
Part II: Analytic Report
An interview with the city administrator for the District of Columbia, Rashad M. Young revealed crucial information about the responsibilities of a city administrator, which is one of the several public administrative jobs. Questions were asked about his administrative practices, discretionary power, problems encountered in the course of execution of duties, accountability, ethics, lessons learned, budgetary impacts on work environment and income, work-related benefits, and the level of satisfaction with the job.
Concerning administrative practices, Mr. Young confirmed that he works hand in hand with a workforce comprising of around 35,000 employees with an annual budget of $13 billion. He listed some of his administrative practices including working closely with the Mayor and at times acting on behalf of the Mayor to ensure accountability, proper management, and efficiency when it comes to the delivery of services to clients who include residents, visitors, and businesses within the city. He also stated his role in overseeing various city departments that take care of multiple utilities and service delivery some of which include fire, finance, water and sewer, community development, and urban planning. Mr. Young further stated that his administrative practices are widespread and involve focusing on the improvement of the city’s operations and oversight as well as ensuring transparency and responsibility in its budgeting process.
Mr. Young affirmed that one of his discretionary powers as a city administrator for the District of Columbia is providing guidance, leadership, and support to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor and other agencies reporting directly to the office of the City Administrator. He also mentioned that he has discretionary power when it comes to the improvement of the city’s services and responsiveness, an objective he achieves through the creation of efficiencies and advancing creative and innovative solutions to various challenges faced by the public. Other discretionary powers mentioned by Mr. Young include increasing partnerships between public and private entities to speed up vital projects, preparing annual budgets for the city’s operations, advising the District government leaders on issues related to finance, monitoring how the budget is administered to ensure efficient delivery of services, and fostering positive and healthy relationships between the district government’s management and the labor union workforce.
Concerning problems encountered in the course of execution of duties, he mentioned consequences of actions taken by the federal district, budget and financial constraints that interfere with how services are delivered to citizens and other stakeholder, strained relationships between him and individual council and board members, continuous conflicts or disagreements with the federal district’s official concerning issues of planning and development, as well as strained relationships between him and employee groups and labor unions. According to Mr. Young, one of the biggest obstacles to his execution of duties as a city administrator is the formulation of ineffective and politically-influenced policies that tend to focus more on the interests of the political class than the public.
He further stated that accountability is one of the most important aspects when it comes to ensuring efficient service delivery to citizens. On his part, his focus is often on ensuring that employees and other leaders of the federal district are held accountable in their delivery of services. He stated that accountability is emphasized primarily in operations involving the use of public funds. His focus is also on improving accountability of the federal district’s contracting process that has been marred with irregularities over the years leading to massive loss of public funds. Mr. Young further mentioned that the achievement of accountability relies on how transparency in finances and budgeting processes will be improved.
In line with ethics, Mr. Young argued that as a city administrator, he is tasked with ensuring that both appointed and elected officials work per available ethical codes. This entails acting in ways that are acceptable before the public. In this regard, as a city administrator, his focus is on addressing negative issues such as misappropriation of funds, inequality and partiality in the distribution of resources or services to citizens, and preferential management of funds aimed at improving the conditions of community members. Mr. Young stated that he had learned several lessons in the line of public administration in his 12-plus year career in the field. One of the critical lessons he has learned is that the city administrator role is different from other public administration roles in that the former is more about serving as a conduit between three entities including the mayor, the federal district or city council, and the public. He also talked of having learned that obstacles or challenges are part of the city administrator role as he has faced multiple challenges since his venture in the field till present when he still has to grapple with political officials, particularly on issues related to policy-making. He confessed that financial or budgetary constraints are some of the biggest challenges he faces in the execution of his duties, which ultimately affect the work environment. Of course, he cannot deliver services efficiently to citizens without finances. Concerning work-related benefits, Mr. Young argued that the compensation or salary he receives annually is one of the primary benefits of working as a city administrator. He mentioned that an annual salary of a city administrator ranges between $295,000 and $300,000, which is higher as compared to that of other elected officials across the country such as senators. Despite the numerous challenges he faces in the execution of his responsibilities, Mr. Young stated that his satisfied with his current job at the District of Columbia given the favorable economic and political climate.
Meier, K. S. (2018, August 10). What Are the Duties of a City Administrator? Retrieved from https://work.chron.com/duties-city-administrator-15499.html