- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2003

City Administrator Robert C. Bobb said yesterday some of the District’s senior managers will be asked to reapply for their jobs as part of a wide-ranging reform of the city’s more “troubled” agencies.

Mr. Bobb, who has been on the job a little more than two months, said managers with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Office of Property Management could be removed or reassigned. He said guards at the District’s Oak Hill Youth Center in Laurel also will be subject to review.

“We really are approaching these areas where we’ve had the most egregious issues prior to my arrival,” Mr. Bobb said. “I don’t just want to shoot from the hip. We need to know why the problems exist, but we don’t need to spend months studying them.”

Mr. Bobb said he doesn’t know how many managers will be asked to reapply for their positions, adding that all moves that are made will respect the city’s personnel laws.

Customers at the DMV continue to suffer long wait times and poor service despite efforts to upgrade the computer systems and facilities. Mr. Bobb said DMV Director Anne C. Witt, who took over the agency in April, supports his concept.

He said managers at the Office of Property Management would face the same reviews. The head of the Property Management Office, Timothy F. Dimond, resigned in June after reports of questionable lease deals.

“Our goal is to make sure we have the right managers in the right locations,” Mr. Bobb said. “We’re not criticizing anyone who is there. Some may not be suited for the new challenges that are in front of them.”

Mr. Bobb said he has also targeted the Oak Hill Youth Center, which is run by the Youth Services Administration, saying he hopes to fix “guard problems” at the facility to protect inmates and prevent the influx of drugs.

But union officials say guards aren’t the problem.

“Something that’s common in the government when they talk about reform is asking people to reapply,” said Louis B. Cannon, an inspector at the U.S. Mint Police and president of the D.C. Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. “If you have people who are unqualified, they shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.”

The FOP filed a lawsuit in July against the D.C. Department of Human Services and Oak Hill authorities citing poor equipment and dangerous conditions.

“It certainly appears they want to take away from the real issue, which is that they have not lived up to their responsibilities,” Mr. Cannon said.

Oak Hill officials have said that inmates, ages 10 to 18, have kicked and hit guards, fought each other and spread blood and spit on guards who break up the fights or try to restrain them.

Approximately 200 officers are assigned to Oak Hill, which has beds for 188 inmates. The daily roll fluctuates between 168 and 175. Many of the youths are charged with rape, drug abuse, robbery, murder, car theft and other dangerous crimes.

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