report 247



Pursuant to your request the Research Council has undertaken a comprehensive study of the organization and operations of the Oakland County Road Commission.  The attached report presents our findings and recommendations.  The Research Council did not undertake a separate study of the purchasing operations of the road commission since the board had contracted with Arthur Young and Company for a management study of that activity.  We have reviewed the Arthur Young and Company report on purchasing and concur with their recommendations.


In your letter requesting the Research Council to undertake this study you stated, “Our purpose is to identify and implement such changes in organization and procedures as may be deemed necessary for maximum utilization of the Commission’s resources now and in the future in the performance of the Commission’s statutory functions.” During the course of this study a number of problem areas were identified and solutions proposed to the board of road commissioners and staff of the commission.  The board and staff have been responsive to proposed changes and a number of improvements have already been implemented.


As you already know and as the study documents, Oakland County is faced with a tremendous challenge in improving its road system.  While the study proposes a number of changes in administrative organization and procedures that will improve operations and provide for more effective utilization of resources, implementation of the proposed administrative changes will not in and of itself solve the county’s road problems.  The existing inadequacies of the county road system are the result of a number of historical factors including the unparalleled growth of population in the “rural” unincorporated areas of the county, inadequate funds from state aid and local sources to finance needed road improvements and the failure of previous boards of road commissioners to adopt and enforce adequate policies in such areas as subdivision street standards and right-of-way acquisition.


Changes in the distribution formula for state-collected gas and weight taxes and the increased financial participation by the county government and by local governmental units have been beneficial.  Progress has also been made by the board of road commissioners in recent years in adopting and enforcing policies that establish more adequate standards for road improvements.  But neither the increases in available funds nor the new policies establishing more stringent standards are retroactive in their impact and the county is confronted with a tremendous backlog of inadequate streets and roads.


The Research Council recommends for consideration by the board a three-pronged approach to meeting the challenge which confronts you:


  1. Implement the proposed changes in-administrative organization and procedures to insure that you are making optimum use of present resources;


  1. Develop and adopt formal board policies covering all major phases of board operations and delegate to the staff the responsibility for implementing those policies; and,


  1. Develop a comprehensive ten-year program of road improvements to meet the most critical needs and submit the proposed program to the board of county commissioners, the local units of government and the public for their consideration and action.



We wish to express our appreciation for the complete cooperation extended by the board of road commissioners and the members of the road commission staff.  We will be pleased to provide such additional information or assistance as may be required.



/S/ Robert E. Pickup

Executive Director


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