Ecology is a cabinet agency under the administration of the governor of the State of Washington, and is responsible to the State Legislature for implementing and enforcing environmental laws.
The State Legislature makes and modifies laws defining Ecology’s authorities and responsibilities. The laws passed by the Legislature are then interpreted and jointly translated into regulation by Ecology and other stakeholders for implementation. The Legislature appropriates funds for the department’s employees, grants, contracts, and other costs.
Coordination among Ecology and other natural resource related agencies is accomplished through the Governor’s Office and the Natural Resources Sub-Cabinet. A senior assistant attorney general is also assigned to Ecology, to advise the director and supervise other assistant attorneys general working with Ecology’s environmental programs. (The state attorney general is an independent statewide elected position.)
Ecology’s “board structure” does not fit a private sector model. The “policy space” for Ecology’s work is established by the bicameral Legislature. Within the Legislature, each house has one committee where most — but not all — policy issues affecting Ecology are considered, often with formal public hearings.
Most programs have external advisory groups of stakeholders, including members that represent the regulated community or who represent local governments receiving state or federal funds through the program. These advisory group members are considered independent, since they are not employees of Ecology. In addition, Ecology may contract with consultants to provide analysis and recommendations on particular issues.
Direct responsibility for Ecology’s economic, social and environmental performance is focused on the director, the program managers, and other managers, especially the chief financial officer and the administrative services director.
The chair of the highest internal governance body is director. The director position is a political appointee of the governor, subject to the consent of the Washington State Senate. The Washington Legislature established the Ecology director position as executive and administrative head of the agency.
The director has complete charge of and supervisory powers over the department. To assist the Ecology director, the deputy director and the program managers direct the work and resources of each environmental program.
To ensure coordination and shared agency knowledge, networks of management teams are responsible for conveying strategy, policy, and direction to staff throughout the agency. These teams are technical advisory groups to the senior manager in each team. The responsibility and authority of each manager is defined in a job description, which may be augmented by performance agreements or specific directives through the management chain.
Ecology Management Teams
In addition to the organizational management structure above, there are several cross-functional teams for specific topics or issues, such as the Toxics Advisory Group, the Water Advancement Group, the Water Strategy Coordination Team, and the Sound Advisory Group Entrepreneurs.
Sustainability-based management provides unlimited opportunities for positive organizational development.
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