If there's one thing Gerry Fusco, the interim bureau chief for the Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, loves, it's hiring consultants. If there's one thing he and BARC spokeswoman Elena Marks don't love, it's telling the public how much taxpayer money is going to those consultants -- and just how those consultants got picked in the first place.
In a September 25 e-mail to Marks and Alfred Moran of the City's Administration and Regulatory Affairs division, Fusco shares the results of a BARC employee's "Customer Service Attitude Report" administered by North Carolina-based business consultants The Brooks Group. Fusco says the report is a "tool" he has "successfully used to deliver 'high velocity culture change' in my career."
Fusco expresses concern that this employee did not score well on the test, which, according to the report itself, measures "three dimensions of thought" -- "intrinsic," "extrinsic," and "systemic."
We're going to call this employee "Bob." And here's what The Brooks Group's report says about Bob:
"[Bob] would benefit from gaining a clearer understanding of people and activities."
"He would benefit from asking the reason for certain rules or systems, to better understand them."
"He needs an atmosphere that has a clear structure and a well-defined chain of command."
"[Bob] would benefit from developing a deeper understanding of himself, his role and direction."
"He may directly associate his current roles with his own self worth."
"He could benefit from making a conscious effort to develop better two-way communication with authority figures."
Now, the reason we want to know how much each of these tests costs per City of Houston employee is because we want Fusco to get a bonus. Clearly, he had the foresight to find an extremely accomplished, educated group of people to tell us that a municipal employee might do a better job if he understood people and activities better, and if there was a clear chain of command at his place of employment. This, of course, is the complete opposite of what is true for most people, who thrive on lack of understanding and excel when their workplaces have a completely unclear chain of command.
Moreover, people tend to be more successful when there is a complete lack of communication in the workplace, and when they don't understand the tasks they're performing all day -- which is why it's such a huge fucking surprise that Bob could actually benefit from enhanced communication! Can you imagine such a thing?
Now, let's look at the introduction to this report, where The Brooks Group states: "Is the report 100 percent true? Yes, no and maybe."
Couldn't be any clearer. See, other companies might give you one answer, but The Brooks Group gives us all three possible answers to the question -- that's more bang for the buck.
We e-mailed Elena Marks on Friday to see how much these reports cost per employee. We also called The Brooks Group and were referred to Richard Dickerson. When we didn't hear back with either, we followed up on Monday. That's when Wendy Marks at The Brooks Group told us that Dick Dickerson was out of the office most of the week. She said no one else could help us. Then she finally admitted that he had already been instructed not to speak to the media, because client information is confidential -- apparently The Brooks Group doesn't realize that everyone who lives in Houston is their client.
We asked to speak with the head of the company, Will Brooks. Brooks said he had no comment and hung up on us. We called back and got yet another Brooks -- Jeb -- who said he didn't even want to address questions unrelated to the City of Houston work. See, we wanted to find out if the company had any other municipal clients, because Dick Dickerson's list of "key clients" were JP Morgan, Chase, Gulf Stream, and Medtronic. And according to his bio, Dick Dickerson's "depth of knowledge...for screening, hiring and coaching is unparalleled, and he brings this considerable expertise to bear every time he interacts with clients who have come to him for advice."
Well -- some clients. We, the Houston taxpayers, are his clients. But all we got from ol' Dick Dickerson is the big blow-off. And all we got from his boss was a hang-up.
Clearly, we don't deserve to know how much money The Brooks Group is making from our tax dollars, to give us staggeringly, obviously, ridiculously trite, non-useful information that is somehow supposed to translate into animals being treated humanely.
Man, we need a job at The Brooks Group. Or the city. At either place, you don't have to answer to anyone.
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