The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has identified criminal justice reform as one of its highest priorities. The LA County Probation Department (LAC Probation), which supervises 46,000 adults and 7,800 juveniles on a budget of $820 million, plays a key role in pursuing this objective, and the department’s Information System Bureau (ISB), underpins its capability to do so effectively. ISB provides Probation specific IT support (infrastructure, operations, application development, and IT project management) to the department and assists in leveraging technology to enhance the department’s capabilities.
LAC Probation is in the midst of a positive transformation, including ongoing efforts made by the Probation Reform and Implementation Team (PRIT) to coordinate existing recommendations for systemic reform of the Probation Department into a comprehensive plan. Despite challenges, the department’s approaches to adult probation and particularly to that of juvenile probation have been changing to favor more rehabilitative rather than punitive tactics, which evidence shows supports less criminal recidivism and greater success later in life. Terri McDonald, known for overseeing reform as a Sheriff’s Department official, became the department’s Chief Probation Officer in 2017. Under her leadership LAC Probation has taken important steps in this direction, such as the closure of three probation camps and the opening of Camp Kilpatrick. This new facility provides a small-group living setting rather than barracks-style housing, and emphasizes education, counseling and job training instead of a militaristic approach. It has been hailed as a model of juvenile rehabilitation.
The Board of Supervisors has also tasked LAC Probation with making significant systemic changes in order to improve rehabilitation outcomes for juveniles and adults under its supervision. The ISB is crucial to this effort. For example, recently some County officials highlighted data reliability as an obstacle to the implementation of reforms at juvenile centers. ISB has assessed its technology infrastructure and processes and determined that it requires a transformation of its own in order to address such concerns, modernize its system and deliver maximum value in supporting LAC Probation’s reform. A Strike Team of County IT leaders is working to create recommendations for increasing the department’s technology maturity, updating systems and equipment, eliminating inefficiencies, creating standards and governance processes, providing needed training, and establishing a more collaborative work environment, by comparing against industry and other department benchmarks.
Now ISB is ready to begin implementing its transformation, and needs a talented executive to support change management, structure ongoing governance and ensure long term program success by engaging business stakeholders within the department. To support this work, LAC Probation will partner with FUSE Corps to host an executive fellow for one year who will analyze recommendations of the Strike Team and its proposed workstreams (Projects and Governance/Organization, Staffing and Hiring/Data/ Infrastructure and Support Services); lay out and initiate the transformation program, provide short term program management and long-term direction; and build acceptance and support among LAC Probation staff. In this way, the fellow will provide vital support to LAC Probation’s reform efforts and advance the County’s criminal justice reform goals, ultimately improving public safety and providing Angelenos with an opportunity for a better life.
PROJECT SUMMARY & PROJECT DELIVERABLES
The following provides a general overview of the proposed fellowship project. This project summary and the potential deliverables that follow will be collaboratively revisited by the host agency, the fellow, and FUSE staff during the first few months of the fellowship, after which a revised scope of work will be developed and agreed upon by the FUSE Fellow and the host agency.
Starting in October 2019, it is proposed that the FUSE Fellow will begin by meeting with LAC Probation and ISB executives. Using a levelheaded approach combined with a facility for understanding and engaging with multiple personalities and priorities, the fellow will attain insights about the structure of LA County government, the culture at LAC Probation, and the different priorities of LAC Probation’s many stakeholders. The fellow will also gain an understanding of steps already taken in the path to transformation, and review recommendations of the Strike Team and their implementation status.
With expertise in change management, the fellow will begin connecting the dots among the Strike Team’s workstreams and overall objectives and outcomes. The fellow will lay out the specifics of the transformation, planning how to phase each action, and mapping out a detailed implementation strategy. Simultaneously, the fellow will need to tap their emotional intelligence, human-oriented change management skills and facility for communication to build trust with LAC Probation staff. A strong executive presence is required.
By the conclusion of the year, the fellow will have succeeded in supporting the recruitment and onboarding of new staff, including open leadership positions, setting up functional areas inside ISB, and improving the culture of collaboration. The fellow will also have established clear transformational direction; cemented progress toward its ultimate goals; and have the right resources, skill sets, and strategies in place to maintain sustainable progress.
- Conduct a landscape analysis and assess probationary trends and best practices — Meet with ISB and LAC Probation leadership and become acquainted with other County stakeholders. Familiarize self with County criminal justice, probation reform and business strategy goals, the work of the Strike Team and its progress thus far, and current ISB practices and resources. Develop insights into the department culture. Gain an understanding of probation practices, latest thinking and best practices.
- Design the transformation program and governance — Determine a specific implementation plan detailing considerations such as the creation of new roles and leadership positions, addressing staffing needs, architecting new processes, allocating budget, articulating roll-out timetables and performance assessment measures. Develop a plan for elevating skills and capabilities of existing staff. Establish organization and critical programs steering committee governance model based on strike team recommendations.
- Begin program implementation – Launch implementation of activities from four different workstreams, provide prioritized projects oversight and report progress of the Strike team actions to the Committee on periodic basis. Work to create buy-in among current LAC Probation staff and take measures to support staff in promoting collegiality and collaboration. Create an ongoing communication channel between ISB and other divisions within LAC Probation.
- Create a long-term roadmap and collect feedback – While managing the early stages of the transformation program, continue creating momentum and working to bring staff together around shared goals. Ensure LAC Probation divisions are owning their IT process. While working with a two-year phase-in, strategize for a three- to five-year timeline and develop a framework for progression, establishing clear future direction. Assess progress of transformation as it is implemented. Discuss ongoing process with division managers to gather feedback. Identify specific cases of how new IT approaches have changed interactions between probation officers and their clients or otherwise affected outcomes.
- Tom Faust, Chief of Staff, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- Jim Green, Chief Information Officer, Los Angeles County Probation Department
- At least 15 years of professional experience in a relevant field, particularly with a strong background in organizational change management and a familiarity with technology. Preference given to candidates with extensive program management experience with demonstrated oversight on multiple project tracking, long term roadmap implementation, providing a strategic viewpoint and defining metrics to measure success.
- Superior critical thinking and analytical skills.
- Ability to synthesize complex information into clear and concise recommendations.
- Ability to relate to a wide variety of diverse audiences with strong emotional intelligence and empathy.
- Excellent stakeholder engagement skills and the ability to use facilitative leadership techniques to coordinate stakeholder activities.
- Self-motivated, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial leader who can also be an independent worker.
- Persistent in obtaining information and creatively resourceful in identifying solutions to complex problems.
- Ability to create direction and movement within potentially ambiguous
- Exceptional written and verbal communication skills with an ease in public presentations.
- Understands the need for solutions to support all people in a community regardless of race, religion, gender, immigration status, or ethnicity.