MAYOR ANTHONY Williams should proceed full steam ahead with his plans to reclassify some 900 D.C. government mid-level managers so they can be given pink slips if they don't prove their worth. It's pretty well known that supervisors can make or break the machinery of government. In the District's case, too many unmotivated and unprepared managers have been elevated into supervisory positions they can't handle. It's time to find out who's good at the job -- and who's not.
Two years ago the D.C. Council enacted a personnel law allowing the mayor to reclassify a range of mid-level managers throughout government. The law's aim is unambiguous, said its chief sponsor, council member Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3): To "improve the accountability of managers in government . . . and to remove those managers if they are not performing."
Managers agreeing to accept the conditions of closer job scrutiny and the loss of civil service job protection will be given raises. Those declining to participate in the reclassification plan will lose their managerial positions. For well-motivated managers, the arrangement is a sufficient incentive to meet or exceed performance standards.
The mayor doesn't quite have a free hand, however. The council must vote on the pay-raise portion of the plan, according to staff writer Michael Cottman. Let's hope council members don't use their involvement with pay raises as a ruse to sabotage the mayor's reclassification plan. A council debate on the size of the pay increases is fair. Undermining the mayor's attempt to bring more accountability to the work force certainly is not. Reformers on the council should stand with the mayor.
In a preview of the kind of naysaying likely to greet the mayor's plan, one complaining council member is already urging that managers be given training to match the expectations now being placed upon them. That simply doesn't hold water. Untrained workers should never have been placed in managerial jobs in the first place. The reclassification plan will introduce a moment of truth in the personnel system.