Preventing Pollution Case Review Essay
DEP’s existing structure was fashioned more as a divisionalized structure divided by its functional areas – Waste Cleanup, Waste Prevention and Resource Protection. Under the Bureau of Waste Prevention were included the various mediums – air, water, hazardous waste which worked independently of each other; conducting independent inspections, maintaining separate files, with no coordination between departments.
Each of these sections also had a high degree of specialization of skills and standardized operating procedures and thus in some ways also resembled a professional bureaucracy, as each frontline and supervisory inspector had mastered the technical issues and knowledge of federal law for only that particular medium. The Blackstone project sought to wrench the DEP out of its standardized practices, because it called for a cross media inspection of firms which demanded a high degree of fungibility of skills across mediums within the operating core.
This was however not possible under DEP’s existing structure, with its high degree of specialization, making it less adaptable. Also, the project called for coordination between the various departments within DEP, which the divisional structure did not currently facilitate. The best structure for the Blackstone project would be an adhocracy based organizational model that is specially adapted for the specific needs of the project.
Due to the complex nature of the assignment and the need for diverse expertise in conducting inspections, a project-based structure at the operating core level that fuses experts from different mediums would be more suited. This may have involved creating a task force of 4 people, with 3 inspectors from each of the different mediums and 1 section engineer to conduct the cross facility expansions. The section engineer would not only take the role of project member in facilitating the process but also supervising it and reporting to the regional engineer in each of the different geographical regions.
Stanton who was responsible for the designing of the operational plan would do well to form a board with a representative from the DEM, technical representatives from the DEP (could beregional heads) to formulate the procedures and rules which would govern the functioning of this project. They would form the technocrat staff in this refashioned organization and also double up as the strategic apex with the technical reps from DEP and DEM reporting to Stanton on the execution of the project and outcomes achieved.
Stanton would be responsible to report further to the Central Regional Office and a coordinator in the EPA specially instituted for this project. This is required because the EPA traditionally controlled the DEPs performance by establishing standards for number of inspections to be conducted in each medium. These control measures would obviously need to be reframed with respect to the Blackstone project.
The board would also be need support staff – a team from OTA/DEM office to provide technical assistance to firms recommended by the task force; IT support and data management staff to institute the necessary systems in order to integrate the information between the various mediums; training staff to induct the inspectors on how to conduct cross inspections and also train new inductees into the system and finally liaison staff to communicate the projects strategies and processes with the industrial community.
This kind of model is called an administrative adhocracy structure which is very fluid in its design and is characterized by a separation in the administrative from the operating work. The administrative section would be responsible for the design of the processes and the project team structures and constantly work to innovate on the design on a case to case basis. In the long run to maintain continuity, the project would probably achieve some degree of standardization in its skills and output and possibly settle into a professional bureaucracy.
However, the need for standardization in the operating component need not interfere with the project in this case. The adhocracy structure has its own limitations however with inefficiencies, higher costs etc. The accountability for project execution lies with the section engineers at the task force level and then going up it moves to the regional heads, then collectively with the board responsible for design of the project and finally with the DEP and DEM as a whole since it is a collaborative venture.
The accountability of the project is hence dispersed throughout such a structure based on adhocracy because it is an innovative process that requires all different components of the structure to do their part responsibly in order to facilitate feedback into the design of the project and maintain its continuity.