Background on OCA
Beginning in 1874, Congress created the Office of the City Administrator (OCA) as a three Commissioner form of government. The Commissioner form of government lasted nearly 100 years, before a new set of events changed the political climate of the nation inclucding – the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and presidential candidate and former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and the riots and civil right protests. The OCA is responsible for the day-to-day management of the District government, setting operational goals and implementing the legislative actions and policy decisions of the Mayor and DC Council. The current position of the City Administrator was mandated by the DC Home Rule Charter and carries out the functions of OCA.
OCA envisions a District of Columbia where one’s race will no longer predict opportunities, outcomes, or the distribution of resources for residents of the District, particularly Black, Indigenous, and People of Color residents. OCA acknowledges the Indigenous People who originally occupied the land on which we work and live. The District of Columbia occupies the unceded ancestral land of Nacotchtank, the sacred site of the Nacostine/Anacostan people, and the unceded ancestral land of the Piscataway people.
As noted above, racial equity is an outcome but racial equity is also a process. As a process, OCA collaborates with all agencies to ensure that the aspirations, concerns, needs, and values of citizens and communities are incorporated at all levels and in all sectors in policy development, planning, decision-making, service delivery, and assessment; and by which governments and other business and civil society organizations involve citizens, clients, communities, and other stakeholders in these processes. OCA also strives to make these processes transparent and clear to stakeholders by making public performance plans and budget information available, as well as hosting engagement forums.
As a leadership and coordinating body for District Government, OCA acknowledges and is committed to its dual responsibilities to prioritize racial equity within its office and across agencies. OCA applies a racial equity lens which is designed to interrupt the impact of unintended consequences by taking into consideration the lived experiences and perspectives of the racially diverse communities we serve. The Mayor’s Office of Racial Equity (ORE) guides this work both internally and across the whole of government.
There are numerous offices or units (ORE, Budget, Performance, Lab@DC, Gun Violence Prevention, Administrative/Legal, Internal Services and Communications) that carry out the core functions within OCA. The OCA vision statement incorporates all of these entities, with specific statements on how each office or unit incorporates a racial equity lens.
- The Office of Gun Violence Prevention (OGVP) in OCA recognizes the disproportionate impact of gun violence on BIPOC and strives for end-to-end engagement with community stakeholders in which stakeholders have opportunities to provide feedback that is thoughtfully incorporated into program design, implementation, and evaluation. OGVP and partners work on the ground in communities most affected by gun violence and interact with those most at-risk to provide services tailored to their unique needs.
- OCA’s budget development strives to understand each new investment of resources from an equity perspective--asking critical questions throughout budget formulation around who benefits from an initiative, what unintended consequences may arise, and what the plan for equitable implementation will be.
- OCA’s research and design work seeks to serve everyone who lives or works in DC with equity and dignity. We do this by recognizing that certain communities have been over-researched and under-resourced, by admitting the things which we do not know, by designing services that draw on the lived experience of residents and their needs, and by publicly pre-registering our hypotheses and methods.
- Recognizing that each District agency has a unique role to play in addressing racial disparities, OCA’s performance management process includes a focus on ensuring that agencies’ racial equity efforts are detailed in their annual performance plans and that these efforts can be measured and reported on in reliable ways.
- To mitigate the effects of big box retail and to minimize disparities for minority and small business owners in the District, the OCA supports and holds DC Government Agencies accountable to the charge of exhausting fifty percent of their expendable budget on purchases and procurements obtained through certified business enterprises (CBEs). As such, the initial resource for procurements and acquisitions is the Department of Small and Local Business’s CBE directory and the Office of Contracting and Procurment’s DC Supply schedule; both resources contain a robust listing of small businesses that provide an array of services to complement NIGP codes ranging from office and medical supply provisions to furniture and equipment to contractual services.
- OCA actively recognizes and embraces diversity and values through its hiring practices. We strive to hold ourselves accountable to make the hiring and interview process all-inclusive. We do this by having a comprehensive position description which focuses on the skills and competencies, assembling a diverse hiring panel, standardizing interview questions and having a clear selection criteria for all position announcements. OCA continuously monitors our hiring practices and procedures to make sure that our process is fair to all applicants. Ensuring we have a fair hiring practice allows us to not only recruit in an inclusive way but also improve the performance of our organization.
- OCA also links to Internal Services Agencies, including the Department of General Services (DGS), The Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), DC Human Resources (DCHR), the Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP), the Office of Risk Management (ORM), the office of Disability Rights (ODR), and the Office of Labor Relations and Collective Bargaining (OLRCB) giving it a unique influence over the entirety of District Government. With that influence it works with all of these agencies to highlight racial equity and stress its importance.
- OCA is committed to listening to and prioritizing resident voices, especially those who have not historically been included or able to participate in community engagement. In addition, OCA strives to develop and utilize written and oral communication modalities to effectively communicate with DC residents.