Thu | Dec 8, 2016

UDC flattens management structure, culls deputy bosses

Published:Friday | February 20, 2015 | 12:00 AM

K.D. Knight, as chairman of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), said last week that the state agency has corrected its problem of over staffing and top-heavy management, reducing the number of deputy general managers from seven to four within the last three years.

In a report on the board's tenure, which ended last Friday, February 13, Knight said that major challenges at the agency was that of governance and "the financial situation". The agency's current financials have not been published but unaudited data and projections from the Ministry of Finance's latest Public Bodies report indicates three years of pretax losses.

Knight also said the board found staffing that was both inefficient and costly at the start of its tenure.

"One of the things we also found was that the organisational structure of the UDC was outdated. We came in, we found a general manager with seven deputy general managers," said Knight.

"We formed the view that the organisation was top-heavy. Therefore, we set about to develop a new organisational chart," he said.

Three deputy GMs were cut, while the number of staff is down from 627 to 524.

"The way in which we dealt with that was top-down. Normally what happens is if an organisation is overstaffed, you start at the bottom and several persons are made redundant. We felt that if we were going to develop the right culture and send the right message, then we should show the courage and willingness to reduce from the top down," Knight said.

He said positions at the agency were culled mainly through "natural attrition", that is, staff who left the agency were not replaced. This mainly related to posts that the UDC board had found to be "unnecessary, because they were not vital to the efficient operation of the organisation".

"We have ended the tenure feeling that we have set the organisational structure right, that we have been able to reduce staff without bring into the picture the problems related with redundancy," Knight said at the media briefing.

He added that the while board Knight was very sensitive to the employment statistics, it was more sensitive to agency's cost "because, I repeat, the UDC is a self financing organisation. We get no money from central government. We are not contemplated in the consolidated fund. We have to earn our way."

The UDC has been a self-financing entity since 1987.

The agency manages about $41 billion of investment properties, according to unaudited Finance Ministry data. Its holdings include waterfront lands across Jamaica, among other property assets.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com