San Diego’s state of the city staff directory
Posted by George J Janczyn on January 11, 2010
On the City of San Diego’s website there’s one thing you won’t find: a staff directory. There’s no printed directory either. Even though the city proudly rolled out a redesigned website last Nov. 20, its “directory” information is still limited to department pages with a department head’s name, sometimes with a few upper-level officials also named. Otherwise, if you want to know who holds which positions and their telephone numbers and email/contact information, you’re out of luck.
A staff directory is not for show, it’s an important catalog of people and their positions in city operations. Not having a staff directory impedes public access and contributes to the perception of a remote and secretive bureaucracy. A well-designed staff directory shows what the city is all about and enables people to engage with and relate to city staff more effectively. For that matter, a listing of employee and/or department blogs, if they exist, would be a nice component of a directory. The city’s organization chart graphic on the website may impress by its appearance but is not otherwise useful and is certainly no substitute for a good directory.
La Mesa has a staff directory with names and position titles.
The directory for Los Angeles has detailed personnel listings for many departments.
San Francisco’s directory gives you each employee’s name (although not title) and phone number listed by department.
My first inquiries about San Diego’s lack of a directory were eventually referred to the public information specialist at the Citizen’s Assistance program. That person couldn’t find an answer and told me to ask at the Mayor’s office. Unfortunately, despite repeated calls and emails to the Mayor’s office for over a month there has been no response to my questions.
It seems to me that city employee names, titles, and contact details are public information and therefore a directory should be available to the public. Who knows, maybe someone decided the city can’t afford a directory (but they could afford to redesign their website). It’s hard to believe though, that there isn’t already an internal directory to enable city staff to communicate with one another and porting that information to the website for public viewing should not be difficult.
At the very least the Mayor’s office should say why a directory isn’t available to the public (in the past, there used to be a directory, according to the Citizen’s Assistance office). Disregarding repeated questions about it is inexcusable.
March 15, 2010: Today, months later, I tweeted about the mayor’s office’s failure to respond and the mayor’s press secretary Rachel Laing was right on top of it:
[good thing I got the screen shots, she apparently has deleted those tweets]
So, instead of answering my question why there isn’t a directory, they’re now arguing with this post which I wrote only after the mayor’s office refused to state a reason for not having one.
There is no law that requires cities to publish a City Directory, but it’s too bad the mayor’s office has such a negative attitude about it. They could choose the enlightened approach of the other two largest cities in California (and even La Mesa) noted above. Of course, city directory information is disclosable per the California Public Records Act, and it would appear that’s the only way San Diego will give up that information.