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Utility Organizational Structure Alternatives: A Case Study of the Sacramento County Department of Water Resources

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The structure of an organization plays an important role in its day-to-day functioning. An efficient structure facilitates delegation of authority, operationalized control, and communication systems. The organizational structure and design also determines the avenues through which an organization can achieve its long-term objectives and negate obstacles encountered on the way. Generally, organizations are structured around function or business units (based on products or services). Most utilities are a hybrid, organizing along business lines where strong identification for employees, the public or elected officials is needed, but have aspects of functional design for administration, finance, and other staff support functions for improved efficiency.

The Sacramento County Department of Water Resources (the Department) provides water supplies, drainage, and flood control within the urbanized portions of the unincorporated County and two neighboring cities. The Department requested that FCS GROUP review its existing organizational structure and make recommendations regarding its structure, reporting relationships, and management processes. Specific “drivers” leading to the need for the study included: changes in the workforce; large spans of control; leadership succession, capturing institutional knowledge; growth demands; new infrastructure; a changing customer base; and operational effectiveness. FCS GROUP identified gaps between its current structure and organizational processes with the vision and future needs of the Department. Based on this review, FCS GROUP developed organizational structure alternatives for the Department to consider. The Department's management processes were also reviewed as a means of facilitating an effective transition to an alternative structure and improving operations.

Keywords: Efficiency; Financial; Long-Term Planning; Management; Organizational structures; Processes

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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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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