The Juvenile Justice Services (JJS) is the agency that is statutorily responsible for the confinement of juvenile felony offenders. It is Ohio’s juvenile correctional system. JJS operates a central administrative office, four correctional facilities and five regional parole offices. Within central office, there are seven divisions which are further subdivided in smaller work/management units called bureaus. Divisions are headed by deputy directors and the bureaus are headed by chiefs.
Also comprise the bureaus are managers and administrators that have specific areas of responsibility which include supervising lower level exempt personnel and bargaining union staff. Over the last five years, there has been change so extensive that it is having a negative impact on the overall functioning of the organization. The agency has experienced deep budget cuts, lawsuits, and multiple changes in the agency’s leadership. As a result, there have been massive layoffs, institutional closings and changes in the structure and culture of the agency.
This has taken a toll on the agency’s operational capacity as well as the morale of its most loyal employees. For this public agency, there was little time for planning or generating acceptance of change. Changes were unplanned and dictated by external forces that demanded immediate transformation. Having no choice but to accept and adapt, the agency moved forward to hastily to plan and implement with hopes of success and as little negative impact to the agency and employees as possible.
The goal was and is to survive a turbulent and uncertain time. ASSESSMENT AND DIAGNOSIS The first signs of impending change came with the release of the state’s 2002/2003 biennium budget, which confirmed that JJS’s allocation of the state’s general revenue funds (GRF) had been significantly reduced. The agency lost $9. 7 million in 2002 and $23. 2 million in 2003. For the first time in its history, the agency closed an institution and significantly reduced funding to community partner and providers.
In addition, this was the first time the agency was to experience reductions in operations, rather than expansion, and that hundreds would be laid off work. When the 2004/2005 biennium budget was released, the agency was hopeful since it did not reflect a decrease from the previous years. The allocated amount was in fact a slight bit higher than the prior biennium budget. However, the increase did not restore the millions of dollars that were previously lost, did not accommodate the increasing costs of operations, and was not sufficient to keep up with the continuing rate of inflation.
Consequently, more than 200 employees were laid off and another juvenile correctional facility was closed. The need for a different sort of change became apparent when, in December 2004, a lawsuit was filed against the agency on behalf of several youth who were currently or whom had previously been held in one of the seven juvenile facilities in operation at the time. It was alleged that the facilities endangered the health and safety, as well as did damage to their emotional and psychological well-being.
The lawsuit also claimed that the agency did not adequately tend to the educational, medical, or mental health needs of youth. Court appointed investigators substantiated the charges against JJS so, in 2008, the agency entered into a settlement agreement with the plaintiffs. Federally appointed monitors were given oversight authority over the agency, for a period of five years, to ensure that the agency upheld the requirements of the agreement which mandated that extensive changes to the way the agency did business and serviced youth.
Major investigative findings included the need for enhanced restructuring of health and mental health services, increased training of direct service staff, and actions to substantially reduce population of the youth and revising its approach to housing and treatment by restructuring to smaller regionalized facilities. The conditions in JJS institutions were at least partially caused by the forced budget cuts which led to reductions in services and staff. The resulting lawsuit that was filed against the agency caused another chain of events that served to undo the leadership of the organization.
Beginning with the head of the agency, the director, several key leaders were removed or displaced. The director was asked to resign his position and replaced in the interim with a seasoned criminal justice professional who was frequently assigned by the Governor to step in and direct agencies during times of crisis or turmoil. The interim director, TS, was named as permanent director within a few short months, replacing the director who had led the agency for more than 15 years.
While the events leading to change began with the 2002/2003 biennium budget, the lawsuit in 2004, and the change in the agency director in December 2004, it all created an ongoing ripple of continuous change within the agency. Budget cuts, the agency’s allocation of general revenue funding, has continued to decline resulting in additional layoffs in the years 2009 and 2011. In addition, the agency closed four more juvenile facilities and one parole office eliminating hundreds of staff positions in addition to planned layoff.
Although TS served as director for five years, he was reassigned in May 2010 to be followed by three interim and/or permanent directors. The external forces driving change include the political, social, and economic environments in which the agency must operate. Because change has been either mandated or thrust upon the agency with little or no warning, planning efforts have been nearly nonexistent. Instead, the agency’s responses to change have been reactionary driving by the latest crisis.
The agency has consistently not been afforded the time to generate the proper sense of urgency or to get the buy in of employees—from the top down. At JJS, like other governmental agencies, change is continual and it is something that has to be done. However, knee jerk reactions and hastily created plans have ultimately limited success which therefore creates the need for more change. According to Kotter, “skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces satisfactory results and making critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing momentum, and negating hard won gains. It is therefore prudent that leaders anticipate and create contingencies for unplanned change. Unlike Kotter’s model, JJS uses a contingency approach to managing change which is similar to that of ANALYSIS OF THE CHANGE STRATEGY Because the agency does not use any one change model, a defined process, or consistent strategy to implement change, the methods used by the agency will be analyzed by comparing Kirkpatrick’s Step-by-Step Change Model. This Model is most applicable to the agency and is relative to the agency’s environment.
JJS does attempt to use the many elements of various models in managing and moving towards changed. However, the processes and actions used to plan and implement change are based on the individual knowledge and preference of the leader charged with managing the change which is similar to how Kirkpatrick describes the change process (although his seven steps are intended as a process for planned change). Given that three distinct change initiatives will be analyzed, each will be discussed separately.
The change strategies used to resolve the budget crisis, the lawsuit against the agency, and the changes in leadership will be discussed under the seven steps in Kirkpatrick’s change model. These factors were most critical when JJS was working to implement unplanned change that is occurring due to sudden events that have forced the agency to react. According to Kirkpatrick, using the following systematic approach ensures that that the best decisions are made and changes accepted within the organizations (Palmer, 2008).
Step 1: Determine the Need or Desired Change As previously discussed, change within the agency is typically driven by external factors and beyond the control of the leaders. There are rarely opportunities to identify organization deficiencies and plan for continuous improvement. In the case of the budget reductions, JJS reacted by taking the actions necessary to ensure the agency could operate given the reduced amount of general revenue funds that would be available in the coming years.
As it has always been, the agency makes major decisions at the top of the organization and enlist the participation of only those considered to be executive staff—deputy directors. Once the executive team has decided on a course of action, the information is either passed down through the agency via the bureau chiefs, administrators, and managers or the director may opt to announce the change agency wide via email. Planning for the biennium budget reductions included identifying what the agency could do without and how it could do more with less.
Since the agency operates a central administrative office as well as juvenile correctional facilities and parole offices, it was necessary for executive staff to look and each functional group separately, with human resources being the first area of concern. Institutions are required by law to maintain basic levels of staffing by law. Therefore, it was impossible to reduce institutional personnel who were already frequently mandated to work overtime. Personnel in regional parole offices include parole officers and clerical and administrative staff.
This area consumes the second largest portion of the agency’s operating budget. Therefore, the leaders of the organization looked closely at the staffing levels and found that both parole staff and office staff could be reduced. In addition, the parole regions funded many service contracts that could be reduced and/or eliminate to reduce costs. JJS’ central administrative office was the area that was most heavily targeted for staffing reductions. The organizational leaders considered each position at central office, the functions of the position, and whether it was critical to function of the organization.
Since 2003, 2009, and 2011 layoffs central office staff has been reduced by more than 50 percent. Although the leaders made deep cuts to staffing, it soon realized that it would require much more to accommodate the reductions in the biennium budgets and the resulting deficits. The leaders and executives found that it would be necessary to close four juvenile correctional facilities and one regional parole office between 2003 and 2011. Coincidently, the reductions in the number of facilities came during a time when the lawsuit dictated the agency rethink and restructure the organization.
When leaders are faced with eliminating the positions of hundreds of employees, it is difficult to gain support or minimize resistance to change. Resistance to change will occur when employees are fearful of the unknown or when the change will most likely have a negative impact on their position within the organization. JJS sought to minimize resistance to change by keeping the layoff plans confidential until such time as the plan was complete, and the leaders were ready to contend with the fall out resulting from their decisions.
The change strategy to address the requirements of the lawsuit against the agency allowed for more time to plan and implement. The wheels of justice move slowly, therefore JJS more time to address the unplanned change. After three years in the court system, the leaders of the organization accepted a settlement agreement that would require the agency to make changes in the way youth are managed while in the custody of the agency. To implement the required changes, members of executive staff outlined every requirement in what was called a master plan and attached goals, objectives, and tasks to each of the requirements.
Each of the requirements and the associated tasks was assigned to the section with the respective area of responsible and then assigned to a person. The agency took a project management approach to gradually make the necessary changes which are still being implemented today. Step 2: Prepare Tentative Plans As part of identifying the need for change, the leaders of the organization begin to make plans for change. In the case of JJS’ budget deficit and the resulting need for layoffs and institutional closings, the initial stages of the planning process began simultaneously.
Executive staff determined what could be cut from the operating budget and how best to approach the tasks at hand. Then next step in the planning process involved amount of the reductions is compared to staff salaries and facility operating costs. As part of my research, I will conduct interviews with staff from different areas of the organization, review internal and external documents related to budgets, review documents related to the lawsuit and the subsequent master plan, and conduct a review of relevant literature.
The goal will be to determine the underlying causes of the many changes and to gain a better understanding of what was implemented correctly, what could have been implemented more effectively, and whether the changes were successful given the impact to the organization. In addition to the research conducted relative to the specific organization, I will conduct a literature review of at least five scholarly articles, books, and other publications related to organizational change. Creating Public Value: Strategic Management in Government, by Mark H.
Moore, will be used as a resource as the book provides strategies for managing in a governmental agency, which includes detail on achieving a desired outcome. In addition, Managing Chaos and Complexity in Government: A New Paradigm for Managing Change, Innovation, and Organizational, by L. Douglas Kiel will be used as a reference in my analysis as it provides a change perspective applied to the public sector. It also is particularly relevant because the organization that I am diagnosing is quickly approaching a state of chaos.