OF RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA
Chevron Corporation, formerly Standard Oil of California, has operated a refinery in the City of Richmond since 1902, and over the years the refinery management and the City have developed a partnership that has been responsive to the complex and ever-changing needs of the City as well as the business challenges that must be faced by a major corporation. This partnership has been characterized by the creative approaches it has taken to problems; a recent example of this is found in the approach taken to the refinery's property tax reassessment.
Responding to the City's recent reassessment of its refinery property, Chevron analyzed the assessed value of that property and, based on the results, filed an appeal of the City's assessment. While the appeal, which could result in a significant property tax reduction, has not yet been decided, the consequences for the City are potentially severe, as the total taxes paid by the refinery amount to well over a third of the City's budget.
In a proactive effort to turn this potential problem into a positive result for the community, Chevron's refinery management met with the City's elected officials and staff to craft a unique agreement. In it, the property tax revenues paid to the City by Chevron would be held constant for several years. During this period, the City would analyze its work processes, develop and implement recommendations for improving its efficiency and effectiveness, and ultimately reduce its cost structure. The agreement also has Chevron providing resources to this effort in the form of consultants, analysts and facilitation. Chevron executives believe that the company's continued involvement in this effort, and its provision of personnel and financial resources, can only increase the strength of the partnership.
The task force established by the City to implement the agreement included representatives of Chevron and was assisted by an additional consultant. The first phase of the project . the analysis of the City's work processes and identification of opportunities for improvement . was accomplished in a five-month period.
The approach taken by the task force and consultant has drawn individual City employees into the process and resulted in the development of cross-departmental cooperation within City government. Officials have been pleased that it also has produced a City workforce eager to be involved in developing approaches to the new opportunities emerging. A specific outcome of the first phase is the creation of some 20 teams of City staff working on these new opportunities. These cross-departmental teams are drawing on outside facilitation and are taking advantage of Abest practices@ from several sources, including Chevron.
The Richmond City Council is playing an active leadership role in the process, holding meetings to develop new statements of mission, vision and core values that serve as a basis for the City's business plans and change plans. This effort also resulted in the City Council and senior staff developing both short- and long-term objectives that are giving the City workforce a much clearer sense of direction.
All of the consultants who submitted proposals on this project recognized the uniqueness of what was occurring in Richmond . the fact that the City was undertaking such a sweeping review of its work processes, a citywide review that was going far beyond just one or two departments. All involved agree that while the scale is challenging, the prospect for significant and sustained change is enhanced by the inclusion of all departments in the process.
The next phase of the effort is focused on sustaining the changes that are made through a Acultural@ transformation of the City's staff. Officials say such a transformation will produce constructive individual behaviors and enable the City to manage more independently the continuous improvement that is anticipated.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.