EA Drainage cannot agree on Director qualifications, issues RFQ for Capital Projects manager

SSA’s Christel Slaughter (file photo)

East Ascension Consolidated Gravity Drainage District No. 1 (the District) voted to issue an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) seeking a Program Manager of all Capital Projects during Monday’s three-hour, plus meeting.  Which is not to be confused with the contractually obligated, yet to be created Drainage Director position…and a good thing since there is plenty of confusion to go around.  Tasking an outside consultant to commence the national search for Ascension’s first “drainage czar,” the loftier position has no job description, qualifications, duties, etc.

Once a Drainage Director is identified and actually hired, shouldn’t that individual manage the capital projects?  How many positions are being created?

According to Chairman Chase Melancon, presiding over his first live meeting, the Program Manager for Capital Projects is “part of the managers agreement we passed in October.”  Paragraph D.3 of that agreement reads:

The Move Ascension transportation program provides an excellent example of a large, complex effort, and much can be learned from its success. The Ascension Parish Floodplain Management Plan project is on track and will be producing recommendations on risk mitigation opportunities and a final plan with recommended projects in approximately 12 months. Toward that end, within 30 days, the Parish President will engage and contract with a qualified subject matter consultant for the services of a Program Manager who will work closely with the new Drainage Director and the Drainage Liaison to ensure continuity and program success.

Identifying and hiring EA Drainage’s first Director is going to be more problematic.  First things first, the job qualifications have to be determined.  Much of Monday’s discussion concerned whether or not the minimum requirements for the position should include an engineering degree.

SSA Consultants’ Dr. Christel Slaughter warned that including the degree requirement would shrink the pool of applicants, maybe down to zero.

“(But) you currently do not have a PE on staff,” Dr. Slaughter pointed out.  “Which is hard to believe for a parish government of this size.”

SSA was still directed to begin a national search for the new Drainage Director, preliminarily since the District could not agree to job duties, qualifications or much of anything else on Monday.

What does the District want in its Drainage Director?  A manager skilled in the ergonomic arts?  An individual who understands drawings and hydrological data?

There was nothing like a consensus on Monday, none of which should be at all surprising considering how they arrived at this juncture.

The District, having finally voted Dempsey Lambert out of its chair after seven+ years, is having to put the puzzle pieces together after approving an agreement in October without considering its ramifications.  That was a power play to oust President Cointment, and nothing more.  Now the District is saddled with an ill-conceived agreement, one effectuated so six members could save face after backing down.

Having imposed unreasonable deadlines on the Cointment administration, the District’s membership is incapable of making informed decisions with insufficient time to process quite a lot of information.  All while EA Drainage is engaged in more capital projects than ever before.

Which is not to say the effort is without merit.

A Drainage Director, Operations Manager, Capital Projects Program Manager, and a Professional Engineer (or three) all seem like good things for any Consolidated Gravity Drainage District to have at it disposal.  All, or any, could have been obtained without the fiasco that was…

Commission strips Cointment of drainage duties, ignoring public outcry

But then EA Drainage would not have its new Drainage Liaison…

EAD approves Roux consulting agreement by 6-2 vote


Back to the business at hand; a fair amount of meeting time on Monday was devoted to which organization chart should be adopted…

President Cointment favors Option 1’s Functional Distribution with a second position, Operations Director added because the numerous duties would overwhelm any single individual.  EA Drainage has a couple of hundred million dollars worth of capital projects in various stages of the pipeline, while responsible for day-to-day operations.  There was some consensus on a division of labor which would delineate the two, Capital Projects versus Vegetation & Drainage.

The discussion was ended without resolution, nor a timeline for achieving same.