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Making it happen: implementing the FHWA restructuring plan.

"Making What's Good Even Better" in the last issue of Public Roads explored the underlying reasons for the restructuring of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and outlined the design of the restructured agency. This article describes the progress on implementing both the field and headquarters restructuring plans.

Restructuring began on May 13, 1998, with the delegation of virtually all program responsibility previously assigned to the nine regional offices to the 52 division offices (one in each state, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia). In June 1998, the Phase II Restructuring Task Force developed the final design for the four resource centers created to support the divisions, and on July 30, 1998, the selection of Baltimore, Atlanta, Olympia Fields (Chicago), and San Francisco as the locations of the resource centers was announced.

Effective Oct. 1, 1998, the employees of the regional offices that were eliminated became "virtual" members of the resource centers. That is, many of the staff of the new resource centers are not yet physically located at a resource center site, but all are connected electronically and functioning in their new roles.

Field Implementation

It was critical to staff the resource centers with technical experts and to expand the capacity of the divisions to permit them to carry out their expanded program responsibilities in a timely fashion To that end descriptions of positions were circulated to all employees in September 1998 In October 1998, all employees of the former regions were surveyed to give them the opportunity to express an interest in a lateral reassignment to a newly created position at a resource center or to a vacant position at a division office or at FHWA headquarters. Headquarters and division employees were also able to express an interest in lateral reassignments to the resource centers. In total, more than 300 positions needed to be filled

"The objective of the 'National Plan for Lateral Reassignments' was to position our expertise where it could best serve our partners and customers and, at the same time and to the extent possible, accommodate the wishes of employees," stated Tony Kane, FHWA executive director "I was extremely pleased with the response from employees and managers More than 350 employees responded to the survey and made themselves available for lateral reassignments to resource center, division office, or headquarters positions In almost all cases, we were able to make selections that served both the interests of the agency and the stated preferences of employees."

FHWA's deputy administrator, Gloria Jeff, was also pleased by the response.

"It was especially noteworthy that many headquarters and division employees expressed interest in resource center positions," Jeff said "In the area of pavements alone, six highly qualified headquarters employees noted their interest in technical positions in the resource centers All six were selected This clearly demonstrates employee commitment to our expanded role in providing technical expertise and best practices to the divisions and to our state and local partners."

In the first phase of the plan, 231 resource center and division positions were filled. Enforcement, legal, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety liaison positions were also filled during this phase, which concluded on Dec. 14; these positions are co-located with the resource centers (See table 2.)

Phase II of the field implementation began on Dec. 18 and ended on Jan. 8. In this phase, headquarters employees who previously had not been able to express an interest in division positions were given an opportunity to do so, and 54 headquarters employees responded to the solicitation for lateral reassignment to positions in the divisions.

Headquarters Implementation

In January, all headquarters employees were reassigned to one of the five core business units (CBUs) or eight cross-cutting service business units (SBUs) in the new matrix structure. In most cases, employees were reassigned in a "block." For example, employees in the Bridge Division of the Office of Program Development were reassigned to the Infrastructure CBU. However, in some instances, functions were divided among several of the new CBUs or SBUs based on agency need.
Table 1 - Employee Surveys - Lateral Reassignment

Total Number of Surveys Received as of Oct. 30, 1998: 395

From former regional office employees: 304(*)
From division office employees: 45
From headquarters employees: 46

* Represents 98.4 percent of employees from whom a response.

In addition to the staff reassignments, a number of Senior Executive Service (SES) staff were reassigned.

"The headquarters reorganization presented a unique opportunity for us to provide new assignments and challenges for headquarters staff. It was gratifying to observe the enthusiasm with which the SES leadership in the agency embraced their new assignments. I am convinced that both individuals and FHWA will benefit from this action," said Kane. (See table 3.)

At the end of January, the reassignment of some headquarters employees to the field, combined with a small number of new headquarters positions created by restructuring, provided an opportunity for all FHWA employees to consider reassignment. After all lateral reassignments were completed, all remaining vacant positions in headquarters, resource centers, and the divisions were advertised through the merit promotion process.

"The physical movement of individuals is in process, and most permanent change-of-station moves are expected in fiscal year 1999," said George Moore, director of the Office of Administration.

"It is important for everyone in the agency, as well as our partners and customers, to remember that FHWA has not gained or lost FTE [full-time-equivalent positions]. What we have done is fundamentally change the manner in which we do business, restructured our organization to reflect what our role will be in the first quarter of the 21st century, and redistributed our FTE accordingly," said Federal Highway Administrator Kenneth R. Wykle. "We are restructuring to enable us to better meet the goals of our strategic plan, which, in turn, will allow us to create the best transportation system in the world for the American public."
Table 2 - Status of Lateral Reassignments

 No. of Positions No. of Positions
Position Category Announced Filled

Eastern RC 46 32
Enforcement 4 3
Legal 7 4

Southern RC 46 30
Enforcement 4 5
Legal 6 4

Midwestern RC 46(*) 32(*)
Enforcement 6 4
Legal 4 4

Western RC 49 35
Enforcement 4 4
Legal 10 6

NHTSA Safety 10 8(**)
Liaison Positions

* Includes RETREP positions in Denver and Kansas City.

** Recent selection under merit promotion raises total to nine

Julie Anna Cirillo is the program manager, Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety, FHWA. Before her appointment as program manager, she was the change manager for FHWA restructuring. She has held a variety of technical and management and positions within the FHWA offices of Research and Development and of Highway Safety. She has been an active participant in numerous Transportation Research Board activities in her 30-year FHWA career. Most recently, she served as regional administrator of the former Region Nine in San Francisco, Calif. Ms. Cirillo received her bachelor's degree in mathematics from Trinity College and her degree in engineering from Catholic University.

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Title Annotation:Federal Highway Administration
Author:Cirillo, Julie Anna
Publication:Public Roads
Date:Mar 1, 1999
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