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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

AASHTO 2006 Clearinghouse Report

Right-Of-Way Organizational Structures and Operational Systems

The New Jersey Department of Transportation requested a survey of the other states regarding the following. New Jersey was interested in knowing whether any other State Right-of-Way Directors had undergone a major restructuring of their organizations and/or operations in the past five years. Of particular interest was whether staff titles, salary ranges, reporting relationships, responsibilities, and the like, had been overhauled. If so, how, and was this accomplished by right-of-way management and internal human resources staff, or was a professional management consultant utilized.


Arkansas has not had a major restructuring of the right-of-way organization during the past five years. No restructuring is being considered at this time.


There has not been a major restructuring of the Florida DOT right-of-way office since 1986, when the entire Florida DOT was decentralized to district operations. As you can imagine, that was a major restructuring that affected the entire Department and resulted in substantial changes of duties and responsibilities, reporting relationships, transfers of personnel, etc. This involved changes to the core of the Department's operations, because each district was given authority for development of their own work program, including planning, project development, design, right-of-way, construction and maintenance, contracting, staffing and completion and delivery of the transportation projects. Central office became responsible for statewide program policy, procedures, training, quality assurance, technical assistance and general oversight of the districts. As they recall, there were no major salary changes associated with the transition to the new organization. Also, they do not recall that a consultant was involved with the decentralization.

The only recent organization change occurred about five years ago when the toll operations of the Department was established as a new organization called the Florida Turnpike Enterprise (TPE). This was mandated by law and the Turnpike Enterprise was given a great deal of additional statutory authority to use innovative and experimental approaches to project delivery, including right-of-way functions. TPE operates as a separate entity under the general umbrella of the Secretary of the Florida DOT but is not required to operate within the same policy or procedural requirements as the district offices. No major changes were required in reporting requirements, etc., except that, as with the all other offices within the Florida DOT, the Turnpike Enterprise Right-of-Way office operates in less structured functional relationship with their office.


Hawaii has not had a major restructuring of its organization, staffing (i.e., right-of-way personnel salary and/or salaries) and/or operations during the past five years; nor do they contemplate any such major restructuring in the near future.


Idaho's right-of-way section has not gone through an organizational restructuring in the past five years.


Within the past five years, their Bureau of Land Acquisition has suffered from two State Government early retirement incentive programs. In 2002 and 2004, the bureau lost nine employees to these programs and has only been able to hire four replacements. There has been no overhaul of the organization. However, by necessity, job responsibilities have been redistributed or eliminated while salaries have been frozen since January 2003.

No professional management consultant was utilized.


Maine DOT has indeed gone through a major restructuring organizationally - twice.

Once, in 2000, when their Right-of-Way Division was eliminated and most operational personnel (appraisers, negotiators, mappers, utility coordinators) were placed organizationally into their project delivery programs (bridge, arterial, regional) where they were assigned to, and actively participate on, multi-disciplinary project development teams led by project managers. A right-of-way manager was placed in each program to oversee right-of-way specific functions.

Then, again last fall, when a new property office was formed to oversee standards, policy, procedures, employee development and quality in the areas of right-of-way, survey and utility coordination. Right-of-way operational personnel are still organized in the programs, but are now connected through a matrix relationship to the property office. One right-of-way manager remains in one program, while others were placed in the property office.

Reporting relationships have significantly changed (1st re-org). Staff titles are changing, e.g. Appraiser II changed to Property Officer (2nd re-org). Salary ranges are being slightly adjusted on the appraisal side for two classifications. (2nd re-org).

These changes were accomplished as a result of internal department process reviews performed by ad-hoc management teams. No professional management consultant was utilized, though a consultant facilitator was.


Massachusetts has not undergone a major reorganization.


Minnesota DOT right-of-way department has recently gone through major restructuring.
About a year and half ago, they started to de-centralize the right-of-way activities. Many activities that were once done in their central office are now being completed by their district right-of-way staff. In their largest district, most everything is being completed by the district staff. Staff titles and salary ranges remained largely unchanged. However, reporting relationships and responsibilities were overhauled. The change was planned by and implemented by internal right-of-way staff with some assistance from internal human resources staff.

Attached is a memo that lists each functional area inside of the right-of-way department and describes the decision if that service will be distributed to the districts or remain centralized in the Office of Land Management (OLM). If you would like more detailed information, please feel free to contact Chris Roy, at (651) 284-3599, or Allan Pint, at
(651) 296-1132.

Minnesota Department of Transportation


Office of Land Management Office Tel: 651-296-1132
Mail Stop 630 Fax: 651-297-5399
395 John Ireland Blvd.
St. Paul, Minnesota 55155

May 2, 2002

To: All Office Staff

From: Al Pint, Director
Office of Land Management

Re: Change Management Status-Land Management

Yesterday at our meeting, Dick Stehr and I briefly discussed the Change Management Options and decisions that Senior Management (SMT) made for our office. As I stated before, SMT reviewed all of the information prepared by our Office and by the Districts/Metro prior to making any decisions.

A transition/implementation team will be formed to address the many issues related to transitioning into the distributed service model. This team faces many challenges ahead, but as we all have proven in the past, we can work together to get the job done.

As you are all aware, these changes cannot happen overnight. The transition team will be working as quickly as possible so that affected staff will not be left in limbo. If at anytime you should have any concerns or questions related to this transition, or the work of the transition team, please come and see me so that I can address your issues and help alleviate any concerns you might have.

Below are the Change Management Options and a more detailed explanation of why SMT made their decisions for distributing out the services.

Evaluation Area

Geodetic 1st and 2nd Order Control Data, HARN System, and Database
These functions will remain within OLM. Because of the specialized equipment and expertise needed for this area, and that specialization is considered a central office function in the distributed service model, the decision was made to keep the services within OLM.

Photogrammetric Aerial Photo Collection and Map Production

This area will remain within OLM. Because of the highly efficient internal staff working two shifts, the ability to deliver any product needed by Districts/Metro, and the specialized equipment used by this group, the decision was made to keep the services within OLM. This group also performs many other specialty services, including the coordination of efforts with counties (i.e. cost sharing) as well as the ability to keep up with new technologies and products, which are utilized for the delivery of mapping. Overall, once the flying has been completed, this group is able to deliver all mapping products needed for a project.

Survey Research and Support

This will remain within OLM. This group coordinates all of the purchasing, training, and support functions as they relate to surveying for District/Metro Surveying staff. This group performs true program support activities for Districts/Metro surveying staff, so that they can concentrate on program delivery activities. These are the main reasons why the decision was made to keep this service within OLM.

Appraisal Work
This service will be distributed out to the Districts/Metro. Appraisal work involves direct contact with the customer; in addition to this, having licensed appraisal staff within the Districts/Metro will better assist District/Metro staff to keep informed on issues pertaining to the right of way appraisal process. These reasons, along with the appraisal work services best fitting into the distributed service model, indicated to SMT that the service should be distributed to Districts/Metro.

Appraisal Reviews
This service will remain within OLM, except Metro reviews, until expertise is developed in district office. Because of the expertise needed to perform this service along with the need to retain an arms length review in order to avoid conflicts of interest (perceived or real), the decision was made to keep the services within OLM. Also, note that consistency issues are another main reason to keep this service within OLM.

Appraisal Contract Administration
This service will be distributed out to the Districts/Metro as expertise and AG satisfaction is obtained. Currently, OLM has established a very efficient way of processing these types of agreements for the Districts/Metro, as well as for the AG's Office. Realizing this, SMT has made the decision to establish a pilot process in which Metro and D3 will take on the distribution of this service. Through these pilot projects, decisions will be made to determine whether or not it makes good business sense to distribute this service fully to the rest of the districts. If a future decision results in distributing this function to the Districts/Metro, OLM will continue to manage the Master T-Contract Program.

Right of Way Plats
This service will be distributed out to the Districts/Metro. Having the survey expertise within the Districts/Metro and providing expert advice from OLM, the distribution of this service best fits the distributed service model.

Preparation, updating and storage of Final Right of Way Maps
This service will remain within OLM to keep our entire mapping system up to date. However, we should continue to move toward a GIS environment, so OLM will continue to work with the Districts/Metro to develop an integrated LIS/GIS informational mapping system.

Preparation of Condemnation Maps
This function will be fully distributed to the appropriate Districts/Metro. Because each District/Metro requires and requests a different way of preparing these maps, and the maps come from the district work maps, the decision was made to distribute this service fully to the Districts/Metro.

Title Services
This function will remain within OLM. The reason behind this decision relates to legal issues, to the determination of what constitutes the practice of law, as well as consistency issues, and thus these services will remain within OLM. It should be noted that D3 and Metro will pursue pilot projects where they are responsible for producing the documents needed for this service.

Acquisition Services (Office abstracts and other Right of Way Legal Documents)
This function will remain within OLM. The reason behind this decision relates to legal issues, to the determination of what constitutes the practice of law, as well as consistency issues, and thus these services will remain within OLM. It should be noted that D3 and Metro will pursue pilot projects where they are responsible for producing the documents needed for this service.

Project Coordination (i.e., Project Certification)
This function will remain within OLM. Project Certification and Coordination will be needed even more with the distribution of services to the Districts/Metro. It should be noted that this unit becomes the project manager for the job once it is received into Central Office for letting.

Data Bases (ROWIS, etc.)
This will remain within OLM. Databases and computer support of those databases are a specialty office function under the distributed service model.

Preparation and Review of Legal Descriptions
This function will be distributed out to the Districts/Metro. Having the survey and description writing expertise within the Districts/Metro, and receiving expert advice from OLM, the distribution of this service best fits the distributed service model.

Preparation, Review, and Storage of Commissioner's Orders
This will remain within OLM. Since this highly efficient area has 1.5 FTEs performing this service and meets the requirements of centralized storage, the decision was made to keep this service within OLM.

Direct Purchase Document Preparation
This will remain within OLM. Again, because of efficiency issues and specialty office expertise, the decision was made to leave these services within OLM. However, in the future, additional pilot projects will be developed in this area.

Right of Way Acquisition Offers and Negotiation
This responsibility will be distributed out to the Districts/Metro. A majority of these services are already done in the districts and because of customer issues related to the distributed service model, the decision was made to distribute this out to the Districts/Metro.

Real Estate Closing Documents and Recording Process
The decision was made to keep this service within OLM. Because of coordination issues related to Finance and the AG's Office, along with the efficiency issues (3 FTEs for the entire state), the decision was made to keep this function with OLM.

Compute Replacement Housing, etc.
This function will be distributed to the Districts/Metro. Because of the local knowledge and expertise needed for this service and that this again has a direct contact with the customer within the Districts/Metro, the decision was made to distribute this service out to the Districts/Metro.

Approve/Pay Relocation Claims
This function will remain within OLM. Because of the need for consistency in the treatment of relocation of individuals throughout Minnesota and in the approving of relocation payments, a centralized service will continue to maintain the requirements of the FHWA.

Demolition Contracts and Hazardous Materials
This function will be distributed to the Districts/Metro.

Sale/Lease/Rental Unit Administration of Buildings and Properties
This will remain within OLM. However, we will explore opportunities to distribute these functions when we can also distribute the dollars collected.

That is the current status as of today. I will continue to provide you updated information as it becomes available. I will be visiting with staff in the areas who are directly affected by these decisions, and working on the transition/implementation plan.

In the meantime, I encourage you to talk with me. My door is always open. If you have questions you would like answered, please send me a note, or set up a time to meet with me, and I will do my best to have answers for you.

CC: Dick Stehr, Program Support


Ohio has not undergone any major restructuring on position descriptions or reporting protocol in the last five years.


Pennsylvania has made no changes.


South Carolina has not had any major restructuring in the last five years.


South Dakota has not significantly reorganized its right-of-way office in the last 5 years.


The State of Washington has not undergone a reorganization in the Real Estate Services Office for the last five years.


Wisconsin is going through a major reorganization in addition to a downsizing. They gave a presentation AASHTO conference in May of 2005 on some of the changes occurring within Wisconsin.

WISDOT Challenges in a Downsizing Environment
(Becky Krugman; Acquisition Manager and Acting Real Estate Director)

WisDOT has been a decentralized organization for many years, with eight district offices handling the production and its central office assuming the role of policy development, compliance, approval, technical guidance and training. WisDOT has approximately 81 real estate specialists and management that acquire, on average, about 1800 parcels per year with a total real estate program cost of approximately $80M and a condemnation rate of 8%.

Over the past several years, Real Estate has become increasingly concerned with the future of real estate. A 1996 reorganization divided the Real Estate program into 2 Divisions under different Administrators. The district restructure resulted in Real Estate losing its identity and being merged into a larger Technical Services Section made up of surveying, mapping, environment, utilities, outdoor advertising, materials testing, geo-technical and pavements.

Since the early 90's, Districts have been delegated virtually all approval authority except appraisal review/approval and business relocations. Central Office staffing dropped to 17 positions that included the Director and 2 manager positions. Delegation was working well as long as we had experience at the district management level. However, as Real Estate management retired, positions were filled with engineers and business managers. Of the 19 current Statewide Real Estate management positions, only 8 have Real Estate experience. Five of the eight are eligible for retirement within the next 5 years and, overall, 42% of RE staff & management can retire within the next 2 years.

95% of appraisal work is consulted out in Wisconsin and WisDOT has lost almost all of its in-house appraisal expertise. Consulting is done through a low-bid process that has contributed to a poor appraisal product. Our fee appraiser pool is small with most appraisers choosing to opt for finance appraising in today's favorable mortgage climate. Real Estate continued to escalate its concerns for the future of the real estate program to its upper management.

In 2003, a new governor was elected. That governor has vowed to eliminate 10,000 State jobs during his term in office. In March, all State agencies were directed to take a 10% cut in positions & operations funding. For DOT that meant 365 positions over a 2-year period. However, we were pleased to learn that the Secretary of Transportation and the Governor had taken our concerns seriously and in his budget address to the public, identified real estate and utilities as critical emphasis areas. Both offices were held harmless from any position cuts.

For engineers the news was also good. Unions forced the agency to take all engineering positions off the cut list as long as consultants continued to do engineering work. The bad news however, was that the remaining reductions eliminated almost all of the administrative support staff across all State agencies.
In the end, the actual cuts within DOT were reduced to 107 for the 2005-2007 biennium (resulting in almost 500 employees at-risk of being bumped from their present jobs).

At same time, major reorganization plans for DOT are taking place. The two Divisions (District & Central Office) are being brought back together under one Administrator. The eight district offices are being realigned into five regions. Central Office is being restructured to match the district/region functional structure. Real Estate will be merged into a large Technical Services bureau of over 90 people.

To its credit, WisDOT devised a way to avoid actual layoffs of people. It had sufficient vacant positions to allow at-risk employees the opportunity to "soft land" into comparable pay range positions. Offices assigned these at-risk employees are expected to train them in new careers.

As a result of the Governor's recognition of Real Estate as a critical area, WisDOT has been given 11 new entry-level Real Estate Specialist positions statewide. These positions and the new Technical Services Director position (that replaces the former Real Estate Director position) and the Real Estate Manager vacancy (that oversees appraisal, relocation and property management) have been filled with at-risk or contractual transfer employees with no previous background in real estate.

To add to Real Estate's challenges, we have recently been given a directive to fine-tune and revise our real estate process to ensure that all r/w, from final plat to r/w clear, can be acquired in no more than one year for all types of projects including those with relocations.

In summary, while Real Estate is certainly facing a crisis with almost 50% of its staff and management soon to be at a novice experience level, the good news is that it has received additional resources that, once trained, will hopefully prove to be of great value to the future real estate program.

In addition, WisDOT Real Estate is working on a plan to rebuild our in-house appraisal expertise to allow us to achieve a goal of no more than 60% consulting of appraisal work.

In the long run, with much training and patience, Wisconsin Real Estate hopes that it will once again reestablish itself as an experienced leader among State DOT's.

Existing structure through May 29, 2005

Central Office includes these Bureaus or Offices:


District Structure:
Eight Districts: with some minor variations, the districts are structured in these sections:

New Structure beginning May 29, 2005

Statewide Bureaus (Central Office)

Regional Operations

As a rule, salary ranges have not changed.

The reorganization was accomplished by DOT upper management and internal human resource staff.

Updated: 9/5/2014
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