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Top Howard officials said to need training


Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker says middle- and top-level officials in his administration need to learn more management skills.

Citing a preliminary report from his transition team, Ecker said county managers have not received enough training and that he would try to arrange workshops that can be conducted by outside professionals.

"There's a lot of training for lower-level employees for safety and other things, but, when you get to middle management and above, there's no management training and there's a need for that," he said after meeting with department directors.

The transition team report called for an "aggressive training program" to create pride and improve morale.

The report listed 70 recommendations. It said Ecker should: reassure bond-rating firms of the county's fiscal health in light of its projected $18 million deficit; prepare a new affirmative-action plan; decide whether to buy 1,000 acres of land in the Middle Patuxent environmental area; develop transportation and economic-development plans and consider disbanding the general services department, which administers the county's self-insurance fund and its buildings and grounds and oversees central communications.

It urged Ecker to make government "more people-oriented" and to encourage departments to work together more closely.

Ecker said he would be visible throughout county government. He said he will spend less time than his predecessor, Elizabeth Bobo, in his office and more time walking through offices.

"I'm not going there to snoop on them or check on them," Ecker said. "I just want to say hello to the individuals."

"There's a feeling that there's a wall between the departments," Ecker said. "Whether that's true or not, we're going to take a look at that."

The report was developed by the 108-member transition team and compiled by team co-chairman Michael W. Davis. A final report is to be submitted to Ecker on Jan. 15. The preliminary findings did not address personnel issues.

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