Principles of Organization for Planning Agencies

PAS Report 146

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Information Report No. 146 May 1961

Principles of Organization for Planning Agencies

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Prepared by James H. Pickford

The work of the director of a local planning agency is complex and demanding. Not only should the director be competent in a technical sense, but he must also be competent as the administrative head of an organization, responsible for the execution of the many tasks assigned to his agency.

One important objective of the planning agency is to promote efficient teamwork among the staff of that agency. The various parts of his organization must be coordinated and each individual staff member must have a clear understanding of his particular contribution to the over-all objectives of the organization. This is partially accomplished through simple, clear internal organization. It is also achieved through developing a personal involvement with each member of the staff and giving a sense of belonging to a team striving to obtain planning agency goals.

As a planning agency grows, directing the organization becomes more of a job of administration and less one of technical planning. The director in a large agency devotes a great deal more of his time and energies to his role as an administrator, even though most likely his training has not been in this field.

In some respects, however, the task of the director of a small agency may be more difficult. Not only must he be the principal technician, but he must also do a great deal of administrative work that accompanies a planning agency operation. He cannot delegate these tasks as can the director of a large agency.

Twenty to thirty years ago, the tempo of the planning office was leisurely. The postwar building and development boom, however, has drastically changed the operations of the agency. The pressure to "produce" has forced the planning administrator to "organize" for the job of planning urban growth along the best lines. Whether he likes it or not, a substantial part of the planning director's time today must be concerned with administration and organization.

In this report we shall summarize some of the basic concepts of organization as they could be applied to local planning agencies. Organization is one of the basic aspects of administration. The planning agency, or indeed any other administrative organization, has a structure that can be charted. The chart is a useful means to identify and depict various aspects of internal organization of planning agencies. Charting can define the chain of command or indicate the points of control or review of administrative actions.

So long as the planning staff or department consists of no more than two or three professionals, there is no need for elaborate formal organization. As the staff grows, and the complexity of operations increases, subdivision of labor becomes necessary. We shall discuss the principles of the division of labor and the broad rules for integrating the work effort of planning staffs. Examples of the functional structure of selected planning agencies are included to illustrate current organizational practice.


Many planning directors stress the fact that the most difficult and the most important set of problems in managing their agencies are those of selecting and retaining good technical personnel, maintaining an environment in which they can work effectively, and getting them to work together effectively. Other directors go so far as to say that good management is not so important; that if the right people are selected, they will come up with worthwhile results no matter how bad the organizational structure, the physical facilities, the operating procedures or paperwork burden may be.

We believe that even if all other problems are solved in the best possible manner, the planning agency will not be successful unless it has an able group of technicians, and that an excellent group of technicians can overcome and circumvent some, but not all, of the mistakes which poor management may make. Obviously, the optimum situation is where there are excellent technicians and excellent management. Unsound organization can hamper even the most effective leadership. It can also hamper the creativeness of the staff.

We are certain that this report will raise many questions regarding office administration and organization. However, we do not intend to provide a how-to-do-it manual. It is our intention, on the one hand, to define the job of management in the planning agency and, on the other hand, to suggest the practices that will be helpful to carry out the agency's purpose.

There are few instances where planning agencies have planned their organization at the start of their operations. Most organizations were developed with little conscious design through the years. As the planning function in local government became more widely accepted by public officials and assumed a greater role in local government, the task assigned to the agency became more complex, to meet the ever increasing problems of urban development. Planning agency officials today are more concerned with matters of reorganization, rather than organization.

Nevertheless, the first step is the same. In determining the effectiveness of planning agency organization, the objectives of the agency must first be determined and stated. Next, an organizational form should be developed that will best meet these objectives. In the case of reorganization, an inventory of the existing organization structure is made at the same time the ideal form is being prepared.

It follows that satisfactory results cannot be expected merely through copying another agency's plan of organization. Furthermore, organization structure will need to be modified to take into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals who fill top positions. As the occupants of these positions change, it may be necessary to change the organization structure. The personality of individuals is frequently of equal importance with rational structure in determining the effectiveness of a planning agency program. Authorities today consider that both the formal structure and the informal or human elements of an organization are vital to organization success.

Certain principles on how the objectives of an organization can be translated into action have received wide attention. These principles of administrative organization are useful as diagnostic criteria, regardless of the size of an agency. While it may be questioned whether they have scientific validity, they should not be disregarded in erecting an organization structure.

One further point should be briefly discussed. Effective action in a planning agency is encouraged when city councils and state legislatures set down only the broad objectives of the organization of a program. The task of determining internal structure, staff relationships, and detailed work programs is better left to those qualified and responsible to seeing that legislative intent is carried out. Too many local legislative bodies, apparently regarding themselves as responsible for all administrative detail, destroy planning agency effectiveness through line-item appropriations and through detailed legislation affecting planning agency internal organization.

Division of Labor

A discussion of the management of planning agencies must take into account the size of the staff. In small agencies (up to five staff members), the example of leadership counts for much more than the niceties of management control. For planning staffs so small, few organization problems exist except, perhaps, the problems arising from coordination with the other departments of the local government. Staff members report directly to the planning director in these agencies. They are cellular in organization. While particular fields of investigation may be assigned to individuals because of their special training or interest, this is not rigid compartmental organization.

No positive statement can be made as to what size a staff should be before it should be broken down into subunits. There is general agreement, however, that once a decision has been made to establish subunits, it should be on the basis of the major functions of the organization. Each unit should be assigned a particular function and should be responsible for initiating and carrying through its assignment.


There are several sources that will identify the fields of activity or functions of a planning agency. State enabling legislation sets forth in broad terms the fields of activity to be pursued by a planning agency. The relationships between the planning agency and other local agencies should also be considered. The relationships between the agency staff and the planning commission may indicate a functional direction affecting the internal workings of the agency.

The activities of a planning agency may be grouped in several different ways (see Figure 1). They are probably best gathered together under four major functional groups: 1) Advance Planning, 2) Current Planning, 3) Land Use Controls, and 4) Administration.

Figure 1

Functional Areas of Planning Agency Operation

Functional Areas of Planning Agency Operation

Advance Planning. This group includes the preparation of all general plans, activities that fall short of actual design or design review. It includes the research necessary to prepare or to support these plans and to keep them up-to-date. The preparation of statements on planning policy (rather than emphasis on a series of maps) worked out with other municipal departments, governmental units, and civic groups falls within this group. Such statements cover all the functional areas of the comprehensive plan. Probably the community renewal program, the long-range plan of renewal for the entire city, should be linked with this group. This new program, spurred by Federal financial assistance, is not aimed at specific projects.

Research services may be used by other functional groups, but because they are an integral part of advance planning, a separate functional grouping should not be established. When research has been made a separate operation, independent of advance planning, the experience has usually been unsatisfactory.

Current Planning. Current planning activities are those that are concerned with carrying out the comprehensive plan — either reviewing proposals that affect the comprehensive plan, or initiating proposals to carry out the plan. Projects such as schools, streets, parks and playgrounds that come before the planning agency for review by mandatory referral fall into this category. Preparation, certification and review studies of redevelopment projects should be considered a current planning function. The preparation or review of the capital improvement budget is also properly considered current planning.

In organizing and staffing a planning agency, a function frequently overlooked or underestimated is the "brushfire" operation. Because it is usually an emergency job, it can disrupt the agency's work schedule, unless such jobs are considered a normal responsibility of a particular functional area. Too often they are given to advance planning because it is felt that advance planning can be postponed. The result frequently is that advance planning activities become completely stymied because of the continual barrage of requests for special jobs. The logical place for such emergency calls is in current planning, not advance planning.

Staff members with design abilities are pulled together under current planning, both for creative work and design review.

Land Use Controls. The third functional area of planning agency operation includes the administration of the two principal regulatory tools: zoning and subdivision regulation. While these tools are necessary to carry out the comprehensive plan, they differ from the project and design review function assigned to current planning. The controls are, in large measure, concerned with the preservation of existing amenities and are applied to projects usually occurring through the initiative of private actions. Current planning responds to projects arising from the actions of government. Land use control administration calls more for legal and engineering skills than for design skills.

In some cities the zoning function is considered a separate major functional area within the planning agency. However, because of the close relationship of the skills needed to service both zoning and subdivision activities, it would appear wise to group them together.

Amendments either to the zoning or subdivision regulations should properly be considered the partial responsibility of advance planning. P1anning policy questions are involved in such instances. The processing of exceptions, variances, and interpretations of the ordinance, however, properly fall within the functional area of land use controls.

Administration. The last functional area of a planning agency includes a number of services needed by all major categories. This service unit includes personnel administration, purchasing, budgeting, library, files, stenography, and drafting. Experience has shown that these services are most efficiently handled if they are pooled, rather than spread throughout the planning agency.

While the senior personnel in each of the other major functional areas will be involved in public relations, the arrangement and encouragement of press, radio, and television contacts, and communication with citizen groups are basically an administrative function.

In those commissions that operate under the "secretary-to-the-planning-commission" system, this function is also placed in the administration division, if the "secretary" is someone other than the planning director. If the director is also secretary, the taking of minutes, arrangements for hearings, and similar routine matters are still handled in the administration division.

Functional Organization

The broad picture of organization in terms of functions has been discussed. We have also suggested certain functional principles for developing organizational cohesiveness. To do its job, the planning agency must parcel out specific tasks to individuals in order to carry out its work program. The planning director and his immediate subordinates cannot make decisions unless these decisions are translated into action by members of the staff at the lowest echelon. Therefore, the amount of attention devoted to directing the activities of the staff will depend a good deal on the way in which the work has been divided. Where the work of the whole organization can be divided into fairly distinct and separate subpurposes, the review process of a work project should pass through the hands of as few persons as possible.

Analysis of functional and structural organization charts of planning agencies throughout the country (see Appendix for examples) indicates that the major functional areas are recognized by a division classification in the organization hierarchy. Depending on the size of the planning agency, the division may be responsible for one or more functions. Divisions, in turn, are divided into sections in the larger agencies.

There appears to be no single rule to suggest the proper time for sectional breakdown of divisions, but the basis of subdivision usually occurs by fields of investigation: zoning, subdivision, urban renewal, housing, capital budget, circulation, research, advance planning, project review, and land use. In the medium-size agencies, sections set up to handle specific projects can be made up of persons that cut across division lines. As each major project comes along, a team is set up to handle it. When the project has been completed, the team is dissolved and new teams are formed. This type of organization may be satisfactory for the medium-size agency because it is flexible. But it may create difficult management problems in large agencies because of the frequent shifts in organizational relationships and because of the difficulty of timing the formation of new teams to coincide with the breaking up of teams whose projects have been completed. In this instance, a more formal sectional organization is desirable.

Small Agencies. The first consideration of more or less formal separation of functions should be made when the planning agency reaches four or five professional staff members. While no one element of the staff's work is more important than another, the preparation of a comprehensive plan is a primary function. This function should reside in a single staff division. In the smaller agency, this separation of function should be reflected in the establishment of an advance planning division, long range planning division (or some similar descriptive title). Thus the functional area of advance planning resides within this division.

The other subunit or division established in the smaller agency should be entitled current planning division, or planning administration division. Sometimes a separate urban renewal division is established in communities in which the planning agency is active in the urban renewal program. Division chiefs are responsible to the planning director. Two functional areas — current planning and land use controls — of a planning agency, therefore, are the responsibility of the current planning division. The urban renewal division should be considered a special projects group.

It appears, however, that most smaller agencies combine the current and advance planning functions within one division. Under such an arrangement, advance planning activities are likely to take second place to the brushfire activities of the current planning function. For this reason, it is recommended that a clear and complete divisional separation be made of these two functional areas in planning agency organization, regardless of size of staff.

The fourth functional area — administration — is the major responsibility of the planning director. Within the organizational hierarchy, it may be considered in an "office of the director." It is not uncommon, however, to find in many of the smaller agencies that public information and counter work is almost exclusively handled by the current planning division.

Medium-Size Agencies. Agencies employing five to 10 planners should usually subdivide the four functional areas into three divisions, reporting to a principal planner or an assistant director. The divisions may be broken down into advance planning, current planning, and planning administration, or similar division titles to handle the functions. Dividing divisions into sections may or may not be feasible, depending on the nature of the agency work program. The grouping of personnel from each of these divisions into special sections to handle special projects, however, can be done with a minimum of difficulty.

It is surprising to find how many nontechnical staff members are needed to service a planning agency. These auxiliary workers in some agencies constitute half of the staff, a fact to keep in mind when determining personnel requirements. The 1960 survey of city planning agencies across the country by the ASPO Planning Advisory Service established an average of one secretary for each 1.6 planners and one draftsman for each 2.8 planners; for county agencies, one secretary for each 1.7 planners and one draftsman for each 3.7 planners; and for combined agencies, one secretary for each 1.6 planners and one draftsman for each 2.6 planners. Thus, for 10 planners in a combined agency there would be 10 auxiliary staff members — four draftsman and six clerical workers. (See Expenditures, Staff, and Salaries of Local Planning Agencies, Information Report No. 144, ASPO Planning Advisory Service, March 1961.)

As the planning agencies grow larger, there are considerations favoring the centralization of administrative and clerical duties. For example, a drafting pool or a secretarial pool can be established under the direction of the second-in-command or an assistant director for administration. This may go so far as to require division heads to requisition drafting and secretarial help from the executive officer as needed. If properly managed, this arrangement should provide more even work loads, and should result in increased efficiency. Private secretaries, however, may be considered by some staff members as status symbols, so pooling will have to be sold with some vigor. The administration function, along with other auxiliary services, is not usually formalized by a division status in medium-sized agencies, but is handled by the executive office.

Large Agencies. In agencies employing more than 10 planners, the problem is to keep the number of responsible section or division heads reporting to the next supervisor at a minimum. This should be done, to be consistent with efficient administration, through the functional allocation of parts of the work program.

The large agency should probably have a division for each of the four functional areas— advance planning, current planning, land use controls, and administration. Divisional nomenclature in large agencies may vary considerably, depending on local preferences, but the organization breakdown should still follow functional areas.

Large agency organization may depart from smaller agencies in two principal ways: the administrative function becomes a full divisional responsibility and thus is removed from the executive office, and (2) the administration of the zoning ordinance, depending on state enabling or charter provisions, may require separate divisional treatment in the functional area of land use controls. The latter departure may present some special problems. In some jurisdictions the zoning administrator is semiautonomous or even entirely independent of the planning agency. He may have powers in making decisions not subject to control of the planning agency. And yet, in most instances, he depends on the planning agency administratively for the assignment of personnel and for recommendations on certain zoning matters.

The ideal relationship between the zoning administrator's office and the planning agency under such an arrangement is difficult to determine. The functional independence of the administrator, if he has the power to make variance decisions, is important. To some extent his job would be considered quasi-judicial. It would seem undesirable to leave the way open for attacks on his impartiality based on his being a subordinate of the planning director. If independence is maintained, a further objection to a subordinate relationship may be that the planning director in some cases will be criticized for actions of the zoning administrator despite the director's lack of power to control or determine those actions.

In the light of these considerations, one might conclude that the caliber of the administrator will determine the quality of administration and that, therefore, formal integration within the planning agency may not be important. On the other hand, administration of zoning requires a great deal of cross-checking with the planning agency, and this may best be done with zoning administration fully within those functions handled under land use controls. There are close interrelations among the functions grouped here.

Command, Authority, and Responsibility

Once the functions have been divided or grouped, there is an additional problem of tying together the different parts of the organization to work toward a common goal. The following principles reflect the command, authority, and responsibility functions inherent in organization. All attempt to point the way for more effective staff relationships between the director, supervisors, and staff members of the planning agency. They are:

Chain of Command
Unity of Command
Span of Control
Written Responsibilities
Responsibility Coupled with Authority
Responsibility for Delegated Authority
Authority Delegated as Far Down as Possible
Number of Levels of Authority
Assign Staff Members to a Single Leading Function

Chain of Command. There must be clear lines of authority running from the top to the bottom of the planning agency. It should be possible to trace a line from the director to each member of the staff. Authority is clarified by delegation through steps or levels from the director to the staff member who has the least responsibility. This principle is also known as the scalar principle. It is synonymous with the hierarchy of organization (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Hierarchy of Organization

Hierarchy of Organization

Unity of Command. The concept of unity of command requires that no one should report to more than one supervisor. Each staff member should have only one boss. Everyone in the planning agency should know to whom he reports, and who reports to him.

Complete insistence on unity of command may lead to serious difficulties in a planning agency. For example, a supervisor of a staff member may not be in a position to supervise the technical aspects of certain work. He may not be conversant with the techniques of capital budget programming or some other specific task that has been assigned to his division.

Or the supervisor may be particularly well-versed in the design aspects of the over-all agency program, but is not competent to decide whether certain scientific or statistical methods being used are appropriate or proper. In such cases, the planning director may find it advisable to place a staff member under two supervisors in order to secure the most competent review of the subordinate's work. This procedure raises the possibility of the subordinate receiving conflicting orders.

The correct answer probably lies between the two extremes that have been described. There would appear to be no harm in assigning a single staff member to the authority of two or more superiors, provided that the lines of authority are defined for the two supervisors in a way that conflicts are as few and far between as possible. Also, when conflict does occur, there is only one supervisor whose instructions a staff member must follow until the conflict has been straightened out. (See The Technique of Municipal Administration, page 61.)

It should be stressed, however, that unity of command should be preserved wherever possible and the planning director should be fully aware of the possible consequences of any move that weakens it.

Span of Control. Span of control means nothing more than the number of people supervised (see Figures 3 and 4). While the span of control should be small and the number of supervisory levels should be small, both of these requirements are difficult to follow if the planning agency is of any considerable size.

Figure 3

Four-Unit Span of Control

Four-Unit Span of Control

Figure 4

Two-Unit Span of Control

Two-Unit Span of Control

Public administration authorities recommend, as a rule, that five or six subordinates are the largest number that should be supervised by a single person. Some authorities set higher limits — others establish lower limits. Routine work lends itself to easier supervision — one supervisor might possibly direct 20 subordinates. But a significant portion of a planning agency's work program requires frequent contact between superiors and subordinates; little is purely routine. The planning director, of course, must maintain contacts with many persons outside his staff. Therefore, the number of subordinates reporting directly to him should be kept to a minimum — possibly three or four. The second or third level of supervisory positions within the planning agency should probably have no more than five persons reporting directly to each supervisor.

It is impossible to fix a specific number that will apply under all circumstances. The personal capacities of the supervisors and the type of work are variable. Each case must be separately considered if the proper span of control is to be determined.

Written Responsibilities. To avoid overlapping of authority and gaps between responsibilities, this principle suggests that the responsibility and authority of each supervisor should be clearly defined in writing. The supervisor should know what is expected of him and the limits of his authority.

In an administrative study undertaken by the ASPO Planning Advisory Service for a public planning agency, top-level staff members were asked to list their duties independently. It was startling to discover that several individuals thought themselves responsible for an identical function. Staff time was being wasted in duplicated effort. Furthermore, the seeds of misunderstanding and hard feelings among these individuals had already been planted.

Another reason for placing the responsibility and authority of the top-level people in the agency in writing is to allow the smoothest possible transition for a replacement when a vacancy is expected. With the high mobility of planners, it is difficult enough to train new staff members without an accurate description of the position to be filled.

Responsibility Coupled with Authority. When authority is delegated by a planning director, he should not undermine it by making decisions that belong to the individual who is being held responsible. If a division head is responsible for the quality of work put out in his division, he should not have to accept a staff member who has been hired without consulting him.

Some authorities suggest that this principle can be stated conversely: authority should always be coupled with corresponding responsibility.

Responsibility for Delegated Authority. Although the planning director or division head may delegate authority, they are still responsible for what is done by those persons to whom the authority has been delegated. The planning director is responsible for presenting staff reports on zoning amendments to his commission for study and recommendation. He usually will not prepare the report himself, but will delegate that responsibility to his subordinate. If the subordinate fails to complete his study and evaluation report, the planning director is as accountable as the subordinate. He is responsible for the subordinate's failure to meet a deadline.

In accordance with this principle, the planning director cannot disassociate himself from the acts of his staff. He has full responsibility for what they do or neglect to do.

Authority Delegated as Far Down as Possible. By permitting decisions to be made at as low a level as possible, the planning director and other top-level staff members are released for matters which only they can attend to. The planning director, for example, must devote considerable portions of his time to programming the over-all policy of his agency. He must spend much time meeting with the public, talking with other department heads, etc. He does not have time to perform this function if he is loaded with administrative detail. There are many duties for which the director is responsible that may be easily and efficiently delegated further down the line.

Number of Levels of Authority. The greater the number of levels of supervisory authority, the longer it takes a decision to travel down or information to travel up within the planning agency. In the larger planning agencies, it appears that three supervisory levels, including that of the planning director, are sufficient. Certainly no more than four levels of supervision are required in the largest planning agency.

Supervisory levels include the planning director, the assistant or deputy directors, the division chiefs, and in a few agencies, section chiefs. Too many levels encourage a staff member to by-pass his immediate supervisor and seek out the next supervisor up the line. The staff member feels that he can save time by this procedure, but, in effect, he breaks down the chain of command in a most unfortunate manner.

Assign Staff Members to a Single Leading Function. This is the principle of specialization and is closely related to the previous discussion of the division of labor in a planning agency. As far as possible, every staff member should be confined to the performance of a single function. This principle is concerned with the delegation of authority horizontally, rather than vertically, as in the scalar or chain-of-command principle. If, as in smaller agencies, a person is held responsible for more than one duty, the principle re­quires that the duties should be similar. This is not to recommend that personnel be placed in a "rut" and kept there, but rather to urge assignments that group similar tasks. It is an effort to allow personnel to concentrate on things they can do best.

It is not uncommon to find persons in planning agencies performing completely unrelated duties. This may come about in several ways:

1. An individual may have some "free time," so an extra activity is assigned to him.

2. An individual's background and experience may qualify him to undertake a particular activity, even though it has no bearing on his major duties.

3. An individual may have a particular interest in a special area.

4. An individual, overly ambitious, seizes a floating activity because he is anxious to impress his superiors and improve his position.

There are instances, of course, where the assignment of ill-related tasks to one individual may work so long as that particular person holds the job. But what happens when he leaves? The prospects of finding a person with the identical talents are slim. To resolve this problem, a major reassignment of responsibilities may be required to meet the planning agency's work program.

In many planning agencies, however, work assignments cannot possibly be divided on a cut-and-dried basis, contrary to the principle that every person should be confined as far as possible to the performance of a single leading function. Many projects become a matter of group work, with technicians organized in teams. There may be very little parceling out of assignments on a rigid basis, but each staff member should be working toward the same end in a cooperative fashion with extensive communication between project staff members.


The discussion in this report has been limited to those recognized principles from the hierarchy of formal organization. However, it should be recognized that every organization has two hierarchies, one formal and the other informal.

Formal organization is the official one, that which can be depicted in charts, manuals, and job descriptions. It represents what the planning director believes the roles of his staff should be.

Informal organization, on the other hand, may be described as what the roles of the staff actually are. It does not necessarily resist good organizational practices. It may consist of the relationships of staff members with fellow workers whose duties and responsibilities are completely divorced from each other. It may mean that a staff member prefers to get advice and instruction from someone other than his immediate supervisor. The staff member is also subject to many outside influences that affect his relations with his supervisor and fellow workers.

The planning director should recognize informal organization and adjust it to the formal. Some writers suggest that the degree of acceptance of authority by those at the lower end of the hierarchy is the extent that formal and informal organization coincide. The further apart the two are, the less opportunity for a smooth-running agency. This blending is an art, done in large degree through the intuition of responsible supervisors.

It would seem that a planning director should make every effort to explain to his staff why certain organization-control measures are necessary. Unless the step is taken, staff members are likely to be unwilling to accept forms, rules, and techniques necessary to the agency program. They may tolerate organization-control methods, but they will not cooperate unless they are convinced that such practices are worthwhile. Most people want to know the reasons why these practices are necessary, what is the logic behind them. It is impossible for a staff to carry out an organization pattern unless they thoroughly know their own roles, as well as the roles of the other members of the agency. At the same time, the preparation of an organization plan is not something that can be satisfactorily prepared by a committee. It must ultimately be based on the decision of a single person, the planning director.

The characteristics of the process within the planning agency, which is basically a research process, seem to make many organization-control problems different from such problems in other departments of government. The difficulty of measuring performance, the difficulty of predicting the effort required to complete a planning project, the necessity for coordination within the agency and with other units of government, and the necessity for external communication to keep abreast of new developments in planning research and techniques call for care in the formulation of organization controls.

Where organization problems are complex and the need for improvement is pressing, a qualified consultant familiar with planning agency operations might be called in for advice. The situation of being too close to daily operations makes it difficult for someone within the agency to appraise objectively all the aspects of organizational effectiveness.

Finally, a completely new plan of organization cannot be forced on an agency immediately. It takes time for a staff to readjust to a new scheme. The first steps might only be those that are simple changes, with the refinements corning later.

An organization plan, like the comprehensive plan, must be adjusted to the past and current environments. Conflicting points of view and interests must be resolved as well as possible before a plan can be put into effect. Both must be adjusted to meet changing conditions, must be flexible but not too flexible. Both require a high degree of acceptance for success. One authority suggests that the administrator draw up the ideal organization, starting with a clean sheet. He then suggests "lock it in your desk — but make two resolutions":

1. Whenever a position falls vacant or any organization change is desirable, you should pull it out and have a look at it.

2. As far as is humanly possible, you will never make a change in organization in the wrong direction, that is, away from the "ideal," always toward it.

Quoted in The Technique of Municipal Administration from Lyndall F. Urwick, The Theory of Organization (New York: American Management Association, 1952), p. 14.


American Society of Planning Officials. Organization Charting (Planning Advisory Service Information Report No. 69). Chicago, 1954.

Anthony, Robert N. assisted by Day, John S. Management Controls in Industrial Research Organizations. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Printing Office, 1952.

Gulick, Suther and Urwich (editors). Papers on the Science of Administration. New York: Institute of Public Administration, 1937.

International City Managers' Association. Supervisory Methods in Municipal Administration. Chicago, 1958.

———. The Technique of Municipal Administration. 4th edition. Chicago, 1958.

Pfiffner, John M. Research Methods in Public Administration. New York: Ronald Press, 1940.

———. The Supervision of Personnel. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1958.

Raube, S. Avery. "Principles of Good Organization," Readings in Management (edited by Max D. Richards and William A. Nielander). Cincinnati: Southwestern Publishing Co., 1958.

Simon, Herbert A. Administrative Behavior. New York: Macmillan, 1947.


The planning agency organization charts in this portion of the report were sent to ASPO Planning Advisory Service along with data used in Expenditures, Staff, and Salaries of Local Planning Agencies, Information Report No. 144, March 1961. They have been selected to illustrate certain points made in the report. No one chart, however, can be singled out as a model.

(Note: Clear distinction is made between advance and current planning function. Organizational arrangement reflects strong design responsibilities of agency. Note the relationship of the Capital Program Section [in the Projects Division] with the General Plans and Programming Section [in the- Comprehensive Planning Division]. )

(Note: Observe method of handling brushfire operation in the Special Planning Projects Division. The sectional breakdown of the functional divisions, i.e., Annexation, Transportation Research, reflects special problems in the community. General organization is pictured above; divisional organization is pictured on the four following pages. Note the excellent descriptive statements of the functions of divisions and sections.)

(Note: Observe the sectional breakdown of the divisional structure for this county agency.)

(Note: Clear distinctions are made between functional areas. Drafting and secretarial pools service all functional divisions.)

(Note: Zoning administration is established as a separate division. Organization reflects a program especially geared to local conditions: Branch Offices, Hillside Section, and Administrative Centers Section.)

(Note: A small planning agency includes urban renewal as a separate functional area under a common director.)

Copyright, American Society of Planning Officials, 1961.