When we launched the DDOT Action Agenda in February this year we talked about 5 basic core values. Top of the list is the “Firm Foundation” value. For DDOT this means putting the right people in the right seats on the bus, and then investing in them for the long haul, as well as focusing on continuous process improvement every day. For District taxpaying residents it means efficient, good use of your tax dollars, and top flight service.
When I accepted the DDOT Director position from Mayor Fenty in December 2008, I said a few things at the press event. One, I wanted to provide world class training at DDOT, and invest in our workforce. Two, I saw a need to upgrade and consolidate facilities to bridge the gap between administrations, and provide world-class facilities for our world-class employees (if we want a world-class city).
In just under two years we have accomplished quite a bit that most people probably do not realize. I want to talk about those accomplishments in this blog and their importance to the DDOT staff and to the citizens of DC.
New Facility for Front Line Workers
This year we built a new facility for our front line workers at Farragut Place NE near the Fort Totten Metro, This was a project that had been languishing for almost a decade. I made it a priority for us, and for our hardworking union members. It opened last Spring and pulled many of our staff from inadequate run down trailers to a state-of-the-art facility.
We are also in the process of recycling the Eastern Market temporary structure to give our team another 12000 square feet, so we can move another few hundred more of our key operations team members to Farragut.
Move to 55 M Street, SE
Our planners, engineers, management and executive staff are all consolidating to a new Leed certified building at 55 M St SE [click on address to see location] at the Navy Yard Metro in the spring of 2011. This location puts us on top of $2 billion worth of Anacostia Waterfront Initiative projects, current and future, as well as St. E’s, Streetcar and much more. Most importantly, collaboration will happen like it never has before.
Having all of our staff in class A facilities collaborating is key; having them walk the walk, and have great transportation options is also important. We have launched a program that gives all DDOT staff free Circulator bus access, and free Capital Bikeshare memberships. Our new building will have electric charging stations, and we will be moving to a partial electric vehicle fleet in 2011.
Education and the d. University
I always try to hire people that have deeper functional or industry expertise than I do in their area of excellence (or are just plain smarter than me). I also hire for the trait first, the skill second. Translation: hire nice, positive people. I am a big believer in showing people that you believe in them, by investing in them. We are proud to be launching the DDOT University as outlined in the Action Agenda this year.
Employees will have set curricula for their role, and can elect to take other courses of interest, internally, or through our partners. They can also pusue degrees, ranging from GED, to a Doctorate. We have a $1m federal training budget, and this is the first year since DDOT has been an agency that we spent it completely.
Most of our senior leadership team just received their Six Sigma Black belt certifications as we strive to continuously improve processes within the agency, and wean out extra steps that waste time and money. We also want to make peoples roles more manageable, and therefore enjoyable. Happy employees are more productive employees, so we will be rolling out “Lean” training to employees throughout the agency in 2011, and undertaking a number of Lean Six Sigma projects within the agency to transform the way we function and do business.
Our employees undertake dangerous tasks every day, and safety is a top priority. DDOT has established a labor/management safety steering committee that will be making recommendations to the executive team re: how to protect the safety and health of employees within the Department. The strength of the firm foundation within the department is recognized to be our employees who must carry out the mission. Thus, protecting them from occupational hazards leading to injury and illness must be a daily priority.
Health and Wellness
Over the past 6 months, DDOT has been coordinating and developing a Wellness Program designed to enhance the physical, mental and emotional status of its employees. This initiative has included establishing a Nutritionist-in-Residence, monthly wellness sessions, a monthly health column in DDOT’s newsletter and hosting vaccination clinics in partnership with the DC Department of Health. Our goal here at DDOT is to build a wellness culture that will result in healthier employees/individuals in and out of the workplace.
The future of DDOT
To make sure that we continue in this direction, and bring in the best and the brightest as our career employees are retiring in larger numbers each year, we are starting a recruiting program for internships and permanent positions. We will go and find the best and the brightest from our local technical schools and universities, but also nationally, and will be marketing DDOT as a cutting edge agency to come and make big things happen and learn from the best. We will also continue our partnerships with Cardozo High, Howard University, and UDC, and keep putting resources into our Ward 8 job center on MLK Avenue in SE.
Internally, we have surveyed our employees, and 86% of them are happy in their jobs. Considering the state of the economy, and the reductions in force we have been through, I was pleased at how high the scoring was in many areas, and still want to make it higher, and it will as we continue with the changes outlined above. We have a 96% customer service score, one of the highest in the city. I want our internal score to equal that.
Thanks to our customers both internally and externally. We appreciate your support as we continue to work together to create a world-class transportation department and a world-class city.