GENERAL OFFICE PROCEDURES
Section 8.1 Dress Code: Casual business attire is warranted at all times by office personnel who come into daily contact with member representatives or business clientele. Formal business attire is mandated only when the employee is representing the NCRPC at meetings with federal or state officials present or at public meetings and conferences where such attire is considered to be the "dress-of-the-day".
Field personnel are to dress appropriate to the demands of the job being performed.
COMMON SENSE once again is the rule. Employees represent the NCRPC when performing tasks associated with individual position and at times image is everything. It is important those served perceive NCRPC employees as being professional and representative of their best interests.
Section 8.2 Correspondence and Handling of Mail
a. Receipt and Distribution of Mail
All mail except mail that is marked "Personal" or "Confidential" or which is obviously so, shall be opened by the Secretary. All incoming mail shall be date-stamped. Documents attached to incoming letters shall NOT be date-stamped. In the case of booklets and other material received in bulk, only the transmittal or the top copy shall be stamped. The back cover of single booklets, pamphlets and magazines shall be date-stamped. In addition, where appropriate, material to be placed in the library shall be so stamped. Each copy of transmittal sheets or procedure changes and new procedures received from federal or state agencies shall be date-stamped. In no event should a date-stamp be placed where it would obliterate or make illegible any text or title. At the time of opening the mail, the envelope or wrapping in which the material came shall be saved ONLY if necessary to identify to whom or from whom the letter or material originated. Telegrams and special delivery letters shall be delivered promptly to the Executive Director.
All mail except letters, etc., addressed specifically to another staff member, shall be forwarded to the Executive Director. All mail addressed to the Executive Committee, the Commission or its officers shall be forwarded to the Executive Director.
Staff members are requested to read, initial and forward mail as rapidly as possible. The purpose of this procedure is to insure that maximum use and benefit result from publications received while distributing the reading workload for the entire office and preventing a backlog of material from piling up on any one desk.
Publications and other material, which relate to a specific function, the responsibility for which is clearly set forth in the job description, shall be routed to that person with further routing as determined by that individual.
IN NO EVENT ARE ORIGINAL INCOMING LETTERS OR FILE COPIES OF OUTGOING LETTERS TO BE RETAINED OR PLACED OTHER THAN IN THE CENTRAL FILES AFTER INITIAL ROUTING.
If the incoming letter requires no answer, but a copy of it is desired, the letter shall be photocopied, and the original letter, after routing, shall be forwarded promptly to the Secretary-Bookkeeper for filing.
In the routing of mail the rule of common sense shall apply. Any urgent items which are the responsibility of someone absent from the office or from the city shall be called to the attention of another who may be able to handle the matter.
b. Preparation of Letters and Memoranda
Each staff member will normally be responsible for preparing answers to mail relating to his function. Where appropriate, drafts shall be prepared for consideration by the Executive Director. Letters to an elected representative (Governor, Mayor, Congressman, etc.) shall be prepared only for the signature of the Executive Director, or, in appropriate instances, of the Chairman or other Officers of the Executive Committee and Commission. This also applies to other than routine correspondence with the other local governmental units. Letters to federal or state agencies shall usually be prepared for the signature of the Executive Director EXCEPT when such correspondence is a matter of regularly assigned duties or generated from specifically assigned responsibilities.
The Secretary-Bookkeeper shall prepare and shall sign all correspondence relating to insurance, claims, bills and related subjects except for those letters at her discretion which should be signed by the Executive Director or the Chairman of the Executive Committee.
Correspondence, other than submission of information, with the attorneys of the agency and with other professional consultants shall be signed by the Executive Director.
Copies of correspondence shall be prepared in addition to those designated by the dictator as follows:
Personal correspondence file copy.
Subject file copy.
Dictator's and typist's initials shall be shown on all copies in the lower left corner. Information copies shall be photocopied, and unless otherwise specified, the names of recipients of information copies shall be shown on all copies, including the original. If a blind copy is specified, the recipient's name shall appear only on his copy and on the file and reader copies preceded by "bcc", unless otherwise specified.
Letters which are to be sent Registered, By Special Messenger, Special Delivery, or Air Mail Special Delivery, or which are "Personal" or "Confidential", shall be so identified on the face of the original and on all copies. The envelope shall be so stamped on both sides.
Mail shall generally be sent by First Class, except as may be noted by the sender.
Except in unusual circumstances, no letter shall be presented for signature unless all enclosures are with that letter and the letter is ready in every respect for signing and dispatching. Enclosed documents or forms requiring signature shall be so marked with clips.
Mail prepared for signature shall be assembled as follows:
1. Original letter to be signed together with any enclosures clipped under the fold of a reversed envelope appropriately addressed and of the appropriate size.
2. Information copies, if any, with appropriate faced envelopes addressed and clipped thereto.
3. File copies of the letter with original of incoming letter, if any, stapled below it, so the person signing may refer to it if necessary. Copies of any enclosures sent with the outgoing letter shall also be stapled to the file copies, or if not feasible, shall be identified on the file copies.
After mail is signed, it shall be returned to the Secretary-Bookkeeper for checking and appropriate insertion into envelopes. The file copies also go to the Secretary-Bookkeeper for filing.
As often as necessary throughout the day, the Secretary-Bookkeeper for checking and appropriate insertion into envelopes. The file copies also go to the Secretary-Bookkeeper staff members.
Interoffice memoranda shall be used to report matters of any consequence or to raise pertinent questions with copies sent to appropriate persons. Only the Executive Director shall address memoranda to the staff, although memoranda addressed or referred to them may be further routed to other or all staff members for their information or action. ALL MEMORANDA SHALL BE SIGNED OR INITIALED: The signature or initials indicate that the memorandum says what the writer means and that all necessary information is included.
All material to be filed shall be routed as promptly as possible to the Secretary-Bookkeeper who shall file it promptly. The Secretary-Bookkeeper shall be responsible for the central files of the office. The Secretary-Bookkeeper shall receive all outgoing mail and shall seal, stamp and dispatch same as often as appropriate.
Section 8.3 Use of Telephones: The Receptionist shall have the primary responsibility for answering the telephone as well as for receiving callers to the office. If the Receptionist is absent or otherwise engaged, an employee shall be designated to assume these responsibilities.
The typical telephone greeting shall be,
"Good morning, or good afternoon, North Central Regional Planning Commission. This is (state your first name)."
The Receptionist or the person answering the phone shall promptly refer all calls by means of the intercommunication line to the person the caller names and that staff member shall identify himself when he takes the call.
In the routing of all calls by the intercommunication line the person buzzing shall identify the line the call is on by number as appropriate and the name of the caller IF KNOWN. The Receptionist is to await a response from the target individual to confirm that person understood the message before returning to work. This avoids callers being on hold for an extended period of time.
The Receptionist should make a reasonable effort to identify the caller by simply asking, "May I say who is calling?" The information sought is the first and last name of the individual and the firm or organization represented.
In short, callers must not feel that it is difficult to get to talk to anyone, nor should they ever have to identify themselves more than once unless it is how to spell their name. However, it is important the caller be able to talk to the person who can best help him or her.
All the telephones in the office are for business use primarily and the number of lines adequate to serve our purposes for business use. It is understandable that there will be times when personal calls are made or received. All employees shall keep such calls to a minimum and as short as possible so as not to tie up any one line for an unreasonable length of time.
Staff members are authorized to receive collect calls and are authorized to place long distance calls that are necessary to the performance of their duties. All such calls shall be promptly logged in the agency long-distance telephone log kept by the Receptionist for that purpose. Discretion in the number of calls and checking with other staff members to avoid duplication of calls or communications is expected.
COURTESY, TACT, AND COMMON SENSE SHOULD CHARACTERIZE OUR USE OF THE TELEPHONE.
Section 8.4 Use of Cells Phones, Office Vehicles, Office Computers, Internet and E-mail:
Use of cell phones, office vehicles, office computers or Internet and e-mail services for personal business or pleasure during normal working hours is to be avoided whenever possible. It is recognized that exceptions do occur, but for reasons of efficiency and production, each staff member is to keep such use at a minimum.
Use of office cell phones and vehicles after hours for personal business or pleasure is prohibited unless an emergency situation exists and similar personal items are not at hand.
Playing computer games during regular office hours is prohibited.
Again, COMMON SENSE should dictate what is and what isn't appropriate.
Section 8.5 Use of Office Copier for Personal Reasons: Employee use of the office copier for personal reasons is permitted provided the employee reimburses the office at the rate of $0.025 per copy if more than four (4) copies are made.
Section 8.6 Use of Shredder: Documents destined to be thrown away that contain personal or proprietary information on clients (individual persons or businesses, not member governments) are to be shredded before they are discarded in the trash.
Section 8.7 News Media and General Public Relations: Every employee shall have a responsibility for performing his work in such a manner as to insure the best possible public relations, which will lead to the recognition of and support for the agency. This relates to personal contacts, both official and unofficial, and contacts by mail and telephone.
It will be the responsibility of all the professional staff to be prepared to present to interested groups or organizations, presentations explaining our work and specific studies.
In dealing with official and unofficial agencies, it is essential that a cooperative relationship be maintained to develop mutual support for present and future programs and confidence in our organization.
In accordance with this policy adopted by the Executive Committee, dealings with the press shall be by the Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary-Treasurer or the Executive Director. The purpose of this policy is to avoid the appearance of disagreement or lack of coordination, which quite often results from news media inquiries directed to various members of a board or organization on the same subject.
In carrying out this policy, several guidelines should be considered:
1. Strive to do your best and remember that teamwork is a necessity if we are to accomplish agency goals.
2. Information and education are the key facilities to utilize in obtaining public acceptance of agency goals.
3. Honesty is always to be practiced in agency and public relations.
4. Relationships with people during everyday activities will be the basis for cooperation on future projects.
5. Everyone deserves recognition and praise for their share of agency accomplishments.
In conclusion, always remember that the proper development of community and public relations is essential to the success of our undertaking.
Section 8.8 Purchasing and Budget Control: In purchasing equipment and supplies, the Executive Director and the Secretary-Bookkeeper shall have the responsibility for obtaining the best possible merchandise at the lowest possible price. Where the cost is no greater, we will do business insofar as possible with firms within the region. Purchase of equipment and other substantial expenditures should be considered fully before any recommendation is made since it is essential that we have the most economical operation possible consistent with our needs and our objectives.
The Executive Director shall be the responsible Purchasing Agent for the agency.
Purchases in behalf of the agency not exceeding $5,000.00 may be authorized by the Executive Director within budget limitations approved by the Commission. Employees shall not buy anything for any purpose without the prior authorization of the Executive Director on such forms he may prescribe.
Purchases in behalf of the agency in excess of $5,000.00 shall have the prior authorization of the Executive Committee. When such purchases are required prior to an Executive Committee meeting, the Executive Director will secure the approval of the agency's Secretary-Treasurer or in his absence the agency's Chairman or Vice-Chairman.
Purchases in behalf of the agency in excess of $5,000.00 shall be authorized by the Executive Committee after the Executive Director shall have solicited, orally or in writing, competitive quotations from at least three (3) suppliers, if so many be available in the region. A tabulation of the competitive quotations shall be presented to the Executive Committee prior to their selecting one quotation and authorizing purchase, and such tabulation shall be kept on file.
Only the Executive Director, as Purchasing Agent for the agency, shall authorize the establishment of open accounts with potential suppliers and vendors.
Section 8.9 Standards of Conduct in the Procurement of Goods and Services
All employees shall adhere to the following standards for conduct in the procurement of goods and services by the Commission:
1. No employee shall solicit or accept gratuities, favors or anything of monetary value from either contractors or potential contractors of the NCRPC.
2. No employee shall restrict the free and open competition by contractors or potential contractors in the procurement of goods and services through conflict of interest, discriminatory or non-competitive practices or other methods, which may restrict or eliminate competition or otherwise restrain trade.
3. All transactions shall meet the minimum following requirements:
1. ARM'S LENGTH transactions are transactions consummated through deals made between independent and unrelated persons. They are competitive, straight forward, involving no favoritism or irregularity, providing the NCRPC and the seller an opportunity to freely act, each seeking his own best economic interest and agreeing upon a mutually acceptable price.
2. All costs or expenses from transactions between persons or businesses, which are related or associated with NCRPC personnel shall be examined for reasonableness and appropriateness. Such associations include but are not limited to:
2. Ownership of a business by an NCRPC employee;
3. Members of the NCRPC Board of Directors, conducting business with the NCRPC; and
4. When the transactions are found to be NON-ARM'S LENGTH as defined above, the goods and services charged will be limited to the amount that would be allowable as the normal cost of ownership.
4. All bids and contracts signed with the NCRPC shall have the following disclaimer:
"The undersigned bidder/contractor hereby declares the only parties interested in this proposal are named herein; that this proposal is made without collusion with any other person, firm or corporation and that no employee, officer or agent of the North Central Regional Planning Commission is directly or indirectly financially interested in this bid/contract."
5. Any employee who purposely violates the spirit and intent of this statement shall be disciplined according to the personnel policies of the NCRPC.
Section 8.10 Complaints and Responses to Complaints: Complaints from member governmental units, contractors or beneficiary clientele will occur from time-to-time given the nature and diversity of work performed by NCRPC personnel. While never welcomed, once a complaint occurs the individual(s) involved will follow the prescribed procedures of the program having precedence over the project. If no such procedures exist, the following shall constitute the minimum response.
1. The Executive Director is to be notified of all complaints, be they verbal or written.
2. Verbal complaints are to be logged in the project file and are to be addressed at the time they are received if immediate solution is possible. Any action taken is to be noted in the file by the employee handling the complaint.
3. When immediate solution is not possible, the complainant should be directed to put the issue or issues in writing. All written complaints are to be signed and dated by the complainant and directed to either the Program Director or Executive Director.
4. Each issue raised in the complaint is to be identified and itemized by the Program Director or Executive Director, with the employee(s) most capable of explaining the circumstances to return a written response to each issue within five (5) consecutive days.
5. The Program Director and/or Executive Director will use this information to then seek resolution of the matter(s) brought forth in the complaint in a timely manner.