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Faced with budgetary restrictions, increased regulatory mandates, and a consent order, the Collection Systems Management Team for the City of Portland, Oregon, has reevaluated its management approach for meeting regulatory requirements. By involving municipal field employees in meeting regulatory responsibilities, Portland has seen a decrease in operational and maintenance costs, an increase in productivity, and enhanced employee ownership of results. This new approach to employee management has improved service quality and increased awareness of the impact that field staff can have on the successful operation of a collection system.

The City of Portland has created an environment that encourages field employee participation in all aspects of collection work – from design to final construction to maintenance. Employees now see themselves as partners in responding to regulatory issues and concerns rather than just performing assigned tasks. This is a significant work culture shift for most municipal field staff that is paying large dividends in Portland. Field employees have willingly become active participatory members of process improvement teams that address a wide range of issues – from evaluating new workplace technologies to developing effective preventative maintenance schedules. They are placed on design review and asset management teams and are given the authority and decision-making ability to represent their maintenance groups.

This approach has been so successful that it has been embraced throughout all levels of the organization and has created an environment that encourages risk taking and innovation. The result is significant savings, operational efficiencies, and safety improvements. Additionally, this approach has raised a greater citywide awareness of the importance of including maintenance operations in all infrastructure-related decisions including street design, stormwater technologies, and City codes.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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