Board of Supervisors to Consider Position of a Stronger Chief Administrative Officer

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider whether to create a new position of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) that would be much stronger than the County’s current Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), based on a proposal introduced today by Supervisors Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky.

The proposal for a strong CAO is not a new or unique idea. Currently a majority of counties throughout California have a strong chief administrator that has the authority to hire and fire department heads, as well as other executive and administrative duties. This idea of a stronger CAO has actually been under consideration for several months. During that time draft versions of the plan and ordinance language were developed, as well as several questions of legal process were answered by County Counsel.

The recommendation calls for a Charter Amendment to the County Code to be placed before the voters during the next Countywide election in June 2008. The Amendment would do the following: transfer to the CAO the authority for hiring, firing and disciplining of department heads, establish that non-elected department heads will report to the CAO, establish a clause that guarantees the Board of Supervisors will not interfere with the CAO, and change the name of the position to Chief Executive Officer.

Although dozens of County departments would report to the CEO under this proposal, certain departments would not be included. These include the elected independent department heads, such as the Sheriff, Assessor and District Attorney, as well as departments that would continue to report to the Board of Supervisors, including the CEO, the Executive Officer of the Board, the Auditor-Controller and the County Counsel.

This proposal represents good public policy for Los Angeles County, said Supervisor Knabe. In any major business, division heads do not report directly to a corporate board of directors. They report to a CEO who in turn reports to that Board. In the same way, County department heads should be held accountable to a single person, and the Board of Supervisors should hold a single person accountable. This plan provides a clear and efficient chain of command and accountability.

The Board of Supervisors will discuss Knabe and Yaroslavsky’s recommendation at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, February 13, 2007.