Improving accountability: Supervisors enact county management reform

 Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)– The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors has enacted a new reform aimed at improving accountability and consolidating management authority in the County organization.  The reform, which re-designates the County Administrative Officer as the County’s Chief Executive Officer, was adopted in an effort to clarify the separation of duties and responsibilities among the Board of Supervisors and its top manager. 

“Our County organization is the largest employer in San Bernardino County, with more than 17,000 employees in more 50 different departments,” said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. “Considering the size and complexity of our county, it’s critical that we operate like an efficiently-run business to ensure that we are good stewards of public resources.”

The action by Supervisors clarifies responsibilities of the office and makes clear the chain of command in the organization.  As part of the change, Supervisors established a non-interference clause which prohibits Supervisors’ offices from interfering with or directly instructing subordinates in the County’s departments.

“Having served in the military, I understand that an efficient organization must have a clear chain of command and be free from micromanagement – issues the County has struggled with in the past,” added Supervisor Mitzelfelt.  “I hope these reforms will instill confidence in businesses and industries who are considering investing in San Bernardino County by letting them know our organization is professionally run without undue political influence.”

The Board of Supervisors earlier this year hired former Ontario City Manager Greg Devereaux to fill the County’s top management position.  He was hired under a long-term, ten-year contract in an effort to bring stability to County management.  The contract holds Devereaux to strict performance standards but also protects him from being terminated without cause.

“This ordinance is a move in the right direction that will ensure that County management carries out the policies and budgets established by the board, while maintaining appropriate checks and balances, such as the Board’s responsibility to supervise County officers,” Mitzelfelt said, adding that that particular responsibility cannot be delegated under state law.

Of California’s eight largest Counties, only San Diego and Alemeda still use a CAO management model.

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