Mayor Walter E. Washington yesterday announced formation of a panel of experts to consider reorganizing the problem-plagued Department of Human Resources. The panel's director is Philip J. Rutledge, who first headed the 7-year-old agency and oversaw its creation.
The 32-member panel of social services officials, planners and academic experts also includes a number of ohter persons who helped Rutledge create the massive department in 1970.
The list of panelists does not include any District Columbia government officials and pointedly omits Joseph P. Yeldell, who succeeded Rutledge in 1971 and who was suspended last month under charges that he abused DHR hiring, contracting and leasing practices.
"Rather than trying bootstrap it, I want a fresh, brand new look at it," the mayor said when asked why only outsiders are on the panel.
It appeared that the mayor's hastily formed panel was precipitated partly by City Council Chairman Sterling Tucker's announcement last month that he, too, would undertake a DHR reorganization. There are indications of possible conflict between the two efforts.
Mayor Washington said at a news conference yesterday that he formed the task force because "it's the general trend in the country" for skates and city governments to review human resources structures.
When the City Council voted in December to sever D.C. General Hospital from DHR, Tucker began forming a reorganization task force. He invited the mayor's particiaption, but said he would act whether the mayor responded for not.
Tucker formally invited the mayor's recommendations in a Jan. 3 letter, and reminded him that the Home Rule Sct gives the Council reorganization powers.
Rutledge said the mayor called him in Jan. 3, and several days later he agreed to head the group and help select its membership. Rutledge said he had earlier given tentative consent to serve on Tucker's force, and suggested some of the same experts chosen by the mayor.
But Tucker said yesterday, "We probably will have not the same people.We have not yet asked anybody specially to serve, but asked people if they would be avaible. There is a potential overlap, but it may not be bad."
Asked if his proposal had spurred the mayor's action, Tucker said he felt the (Council's) "timetable was a part of his consideration."
Rutledge said he would have been happy to serve on both panels and is "only interested in helping the District move forward."
The mayor said his panel will study the structures of 27 human resources agencies around country, and take "the best thinking from those" to determine what suits the District. The effort will cost "under $100,000" and take about three months, he said.
A national surge of new social service programs during the 1960s caused about two-thirds of the states and many major cities to create agencies that consolidated welfare, health juvenile delinquency and other related activities.
The same budget shortages, management difficulties, increasing recipient rolls and other problems that afflict DHR have developed in other jurisdictions. A national movement is under way to restructure or dissolve these agencies, according to experts in the field.
Rutledge, who maintains numerous affiliations with public administration and human resources groups here and internationally, is president of the National Institute of Public Management, a research center affiliated with several universities.
NIPM will donate staff and support services to the mayor's panel, as will American and Howard Universities. Rutledge said. The panel members will be paid expenses only, he said.
"Reorganization are usually in response to Crises," Rutledge said. He said he intends to re-examine the "imperatives" of reducing costs, increasing efficiency and "gaining control of runaway bureauracy," that produces DHR.
Although he declined to forecast the panel's findings, Rutledge said he believes the District's Human Resources Department has been deficient in the hiring of efficient managers, adjusting to one-agency concept, and keeping up to date on advancements in the social services field.
Tucker's task force, to be unveiled next week, will review the mayor's report and "also do some original thinking." Ticker said.
"I think the whole thing is a good healty approach." Tucker said.
"I think we're moving together," the mayor said.