Alley Leads a Team Effort

Deputy director of the City of San Diego’s Fleet Services Division and Government Fleet’s 2010 Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year, John Alley credits his employee and leadership teams with the success of a three-year effort that dramatically restructured the City’s fleet operations.

May 2010, Government Fleet - Cover Story

by Cindy Brauer - Also by this author

Without building teams at every level, an organization's members cannot improve individually or as a team."

With that statement, John Alley, CAFM, Government Fleet's 2010 Public Sector Fleet Manager of the Year, captures an essential hallmark of operations at San Diego's Fleet Services Division, where he has served as deputy director since 2007.

The GF award is a result of a team effort, insists Alley. That effort has been the critical component in a business process reengineering (BPR) program that dramatically restructured the City's fleet operations and produced many of the achievements noted in Alley's award nomination.

Performing with Integrity

Alley's fundamental organizational philosophy informs his management approach: "Managers ensure things get done right. Leaders ensure the right things get done. Teams accomplish all things together with integrity."

He retired as a full colonel after 30 years of U.S. Army service. Following a stint as the Washington State Patrol fleet manager, Alley joined the City of San Diego in 1999 as police department fleet manager.

A self-described "hands-off manager," Alley sets the fleet's priorities and goals, but "my staff gets the job done."  Providing minimum guidance and direction and the resources his staff requires, Alley "expects great things from them, and they've never failed to produce."

The Fleet Services Division's 240-member staff is responsible for the City's Safety Light Fleet (fire, police, lifeguard), Non-Safety Fleet (non-safety light-duty, medium-duty, heavy-duty, and construction vehicles), and the Heavy Fire and Packer Fleet (trash collection, and Type I, Type II, aerials, and rescue vehicles). In all, the fleet team manages and services more than 4,000 vehicles.

In addition, the division's organization includes a parts operations and acquisition, fuel, upfitting, disposal office, IT, training, and rental support functions. A dedicated safety officer reports directly to Alley.

Meeting one-on-one with every employee upon hiring, Alley also holds a joint labor management Policy Board meeting every month to identify needs and challenges. He believes an important element of his responsibilities is serving as teacher and mentor.

"Many times, I know the answers, but have staff members go through the process themselves for the learning experience," said Alley.

Reengineering Fleet

For Alley, the Fleet Services Division's participation in the City's business process reengineering program also, was an important team effort. Initiated in 2006 by the then-new mayor, Jerry Sanders, the BPR program was an in-depth look at the City organization from the bottom up to create a more efficient organization, said Alley.

According to the City's BPR guide, the program aims to redesign the City's work processes - activities, services, or functions - "to achieve substantial improvement" by "inventing completely new ways of accomplishing work."
Fleet Services and Environmental Services were the first divisions to tackle the 11-step BPR in April 2006. By that December, Fleet Services had developed a reengineering plan. Implementation was conducted during the next two years.

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