By Jill-Marie Gavin of the CUJ
MISSION – The Board of Trustees (Board) for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) has begun adjusting organizational structure and plans to make additional changes to the way the Tribes address Human Resource operations, Workforce Development and Governance. The changes in operation for CTUIR are largely due to an organizational assessment started in 2019. The first set of recommendations were returned to the Board in 2020 from Moss Adams, the firm hired by the Board to conduct the assessment. Moss Adams conducted a series of interviews across the organization to get an idea of what Tribal members and employees were in need of from their government and in the work place. The areas identified by the firm include Organizational, Structure, Human Resources Transformation, Communications, Governance and Organizational Stability and Information Tech Overhaul. Many of the recommendations coming from Moss Adams were reminiscent of ideas that have surfaced in years past. In 2013 the Board approved a renewed organization chart that included two Deputy Executive Directors (DED), though because the additional DED was never funded the position was never posted. Moss Adams recommended the Board fund and hire a second DED, the Board approved the inclusion of the new position in the 2022 CTUIR budget allocations. Tribal Members Jonetta Herrera and Shana McConville Radford were hired to fill those roles. Moss Adams’ initial presentation to the Board in 2020 highlighted 18 findings, areas of the government with room for improvement, with nine of those findings being related to Human Resources (HR). The first round of recommendations were approved by the Board in 2021 and focused largely on creating new positions. CTUIR has a 2022 operating budget of nearly half a billion dollars due to Wildhorse Resort & Casino bringing in record revenue. The $444,742,447 budget (which includes income from gaming, enterprises and grant dollars) was adopted by resolution November 15, 2021. The larger budget left room for supplemental requests from departments, something that hasn’t been allowed for the last ten years. Supplemental budget requests are bids for increased funding submitted by department directors to the Board. The Office of the Executive Director (OED) recommended several supplemental requests for new positions (recommended by Moss Adams) to the Board. During the first round of implementing Moss Adams recommendations the Board focused on Organizational Structure, Communications and Information Systems Tech Overhaul. The HR findings in the assessment were not immediately addressed due to a Human Resources Information System software being implemented currently. The software is hoped to streamline the hiring process of CTUIR. The need for better communication between the government, Board of Trustees and the General Council Membership prompted the creation of Public Affairs Specialist position. The
position, filled by Tribal member Kaeleen McGuire, is aimed towards building and maintaining relationships and providing outreach, publicity, and communication with CTUIR Tribal members, tribal and local communities, outside agencies, the public, the news media, and others. Interim DED Teara Farrow Ferman, who returns to her post as Cultural Resources Protection Program Manager July 1, said she hopes the changes made will benefit Tribal members and employees. “Because the assessment focuses on organizational excellence, the goals are to improve and implement services that are more easily accessible to the Tribal membership and community. We hope that these changes will have a positive impact. In addition, with improving internal processes and communication it is hopeful that employee morale will also improve which has been impacted by the 2019 floods, the COVID 19 pandemic, and a lack of permanent executive leadership,” Farrow Ferman said. Due to increased need for IT support, the Board approved new positions to support ongoing and growing needs that were exacerbated during the pandemic. “The Moss Adams assessment progress is scheduled to be presented to the General Council in July. There will be information about the recommendations, assessment and where we are going from here. We want to be transparent to the community and focus on how we can improve organizational services. As a new DED, and as a General Council member, I am looking forward to getting things done that the Tribes should have been doing for many years,” Herrera said.