- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2003

City Administrator John A. Koskinen said yesterday high-ranking District officials are studying three city-run agencies to see whether reductions in staff and six-figure salaries are warranted to cut costs.

“We are compiling the data now, and we should have a good idea soon on what measures we can take to cut costs,” Mr. Koskinen said.

Mr. Koskinen said Herbert R. Tillery, the deputy mayor for operations, is overseeing the review. Mr. Tillery said he assigned Bill Howlan, chief of operational improvements, to conduct the review.

Mr. Howlan said yesterday he is reviewing salaries and manpower in the Health, Human Services and Metropolitan Police departments. City officials will not review the Department of Mental Health, as they initially thought, after they determined that many of those employees who are making $100,000-plus a year were psychiatrists and certified health professionals.

“We are looking at the organizational structure, the number of employees and trying to get an idea of their mission and why they felt they needed so many $100,000 employees,” Mr. Howlan said.

The Washington Times reported last month that D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said he would conduct a review of the D.C. government’s $100,000-a-year workers in the departments of Health, Mental Health, and Human Services.

But Mr. Koskinen later told The Times that the administration would review only manpower issues, not salaries. He said the city’s Office of Personnel had conducted salary surveys and that Mr. Williams’ administration didn’t think it is was paying its employees too much. Instead, he said, a review would be conducted to determine “how many people we have working and what it is that they are doing.”

Mr. Howlan said once all the figures are compiled, he will compare the operations of the three agencies with similar ones in cities nationwide.

The final report will be shown to Carolyn Graham, deputy mayor for children, youth, family and elders; Margaret Nedelkoff Kellums, deputy major for public safety and justice; Mr. Tillery; and Mr. Koskinen. Recommendations will then be made to Mr. Williams.

The District will appropriate $1.51 billion to the health department in fiscal year 2004, an increase of $510 million over last year. The agency employs 1,169 workers, with 41 making more than $100,000 a year.

D.C. police will get $350.2 million, an increase of about $49.8 million over last year. However, with federal appropriations for the Homeland Security Department, the total budget is $378.9 million. That agency employs more than 4,500 workers with 44 making more than $100,000. Exact employment figures for the police department were not available last night.

Of the three agencies, the Human Services Department is the only one to experience a cut in the 2004 budget. It will receive $410.1 million, $31.5 million less than what it got last year. That department employs 1,576 workers.

The city’s latest review comes in response to reports that first appeared in The Times last month detailing the proliferation of six-figure salaries in the D.C. government. The District has more workers earning $100,000-plus salaries than Chicago, a city with nearly 3 million residents, and Baltimore, a city similar in size to the District, with 651,000 residents. The District has 572,000 residents.

Of the District’s 34,000 city employees, 575 make more than $100,000 a year. In comparison, 419 of Chicago’s 40,000 city workers and 33 of Baltimore’s 15,000 city workers earn that much.

“We are trying to understand or to see if there is anything unique in our agencies that calls for the higher number of employees and salaries,” Mr. Howlan said.

Mr. Koskinen said he also is waiting to see a report from the General Accounting Office, which he said studies the District’s “structural imbalance.”

Mr. Koskinen said the city has been struggling for decades to manage state, county and local functions relying on tax revenues from only one-third of all income earned in the city. He said the imbalance that forces the city to run agencies and services usually operated by a state or county contributes to the city’s inflated payroll.

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