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District Model for Administrative Services

Penn State Extension implements a plan to restructure the current system of providing administrative support to Extension Educators and county offices in order to streamline operations, improve efficiency, eliminate duplication and maximize productivity.

Implementation Timeline

  • During the summer of 2011, the proposal was communicated to all county commissioners, county extension board members, and college stakeholder groups for discussion and feedback.
  • October 1, 2011, official launch of six districts and appointment of six district directors.
  • November, 2011, remainder of district directors announced.
  • March 1, 2012, launch remaining districts.
  • Feedback regarding the proposal should be submitted by using the "Submit your questions" link in the left hand navigation. 

Overview

Penn State Extension is modifying its model to provide administrative services for Extension offices in the counties, with an eye toward streamlining operations, improving efficiency, eliminating duplication, and maximizing productivity, while maintaining a physical presence in every county to address local needs.

Rather than maintaining a position in each county to oversee administrative services, Extension administrative services will be structured around 19 districts, each consisting of two to five county offices.

Administrative services for each district—such as information technology, financial processing, program registration, human resources, and communications—will be standardized and centralized under a district director located in the district. A district board will be created, with representation from all of the county boards in that district, to oversee the administration of the district.

Anticipated Changes

  • The plan calls for the consolidation of administrative services/support at a multicounty district level, while maintaining program delivery and Educators in all 67 counties.
  • Penn State Extension’s county offices will be structured around 19 multicounty districts, which will support the administrative services for the 2-5 counties in that district and will be managed by a District Director (DD).
  • Administrative services - such as IT, financial processing, program registration, HR, communications - will be standardized and centralized and will be performed by a district director based in one of the county offices.
  • A district board will be created, with representation from all of the county boards in that district, to oversee the administration of the district.
  • There will be a phased implementation process, focusing initially on those counties that are already moving in this direction or have shown an interest in moving in this direction.  As of October 1, 2011, six districts are already operating successfully under this structure.
  • The implementation process will be communicated and will evolve over time based on lessons learned and best practices documented as districts are created.
  • For additional information, view the Frequently Asked Questions document.

Anticipated Outcomes/Benefits

  • Maintain a presence in all 67 counties through strategic distribution of district directors and extension educators in county offices.
  • Increase focus on programming by maximizing and strategically distributing the number of educators delivering programs. Current county extension directors (CEDs) who do not take on a district director administrative role will shift from administrative to programmatic responsibilities, spending 100 percent of their time on developing and conducting educational programs (estimated 36 people.)
  • Increase efficiency and cost savings through standardization/centralization of administrative processes and equipment.  

Testimonial

This new model was implemented, at the request of the counties, in the northeast region, combining Montour, Snyder, Columbia and Northumberland counties into a single district. Walt Rupert, President of Penn State Extension Montour County Board and member of new district board commented:

“Although I was initially opposed to a regional model, I became convinced this was the way to go.  As we have implemented the new structure, there have been bumps along the way, but the benefits have far outweighed the challenges.  Bottom line...it is saving us money and has made us a more efficient and focused organization.”