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Walsh proposes revamping city Cabinet

A proposal to streamline city government was made at a closed-door meeting Friday by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who has promised to usher in a new era of transparency.

The plan to condense the Cabinet was presented to top city officials. Departments heads and Cabinet chiefs who attended the meeting were told not to reveal details of the organizational chart.

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Walsh’s communications director, Lisa Pollack, would not provide details. In an e-mailed statement, Pollack said the mayor “looks forward to publicly releasing his plans for the final Cabinet reorganization next week.”

People who attended the meeting, but who were not authorized to speak publicly said Walsh proposed 12 to 14 Cabinet chiefs, but the number remains fluid. Mayor Thomas M. Menino had 20 people in his Cabinet during his final term.

Boston’s city charter gives mayors wide latitude in organizing their administration. In 1995, Menino implemented a Cabinet-style structure with nine members to foster interdepartmental communication and strategic planning, according to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. Menino’s Cabinet grew over time. Other mayors have had systems of deputy mayors and department heads.

Pollack said that before Walsh assembled his Cabinet, he sought input and ideas from residents who met with his transition team.

“Mayor Walsh and his team took those comments and synthesized them into a draft proposal, which he presented to staff today, offering them the opportunity to give him feedback before the new structure was made public,” Pollack said Friday. “Over the next few days, the mayor will consider staff feedback, as he considered the public’s input.”

Walsh has previously hinted at potential changes. He vowed during his campaign to create a Cabinet-level commissioner for arts and culture. He has described a chief of economic development to oversee the Boston Redevelopment Authority, an agency the new mayor has targeted for reform.

Walsh said in a press conference on his first full day in office that his chief of operations, Joseph Rull, would oversee several city departments, including labor relations, personnel, intergovernmental relations, and the Office of Neighborhood Services.

Before taking office, Walsh named Felix G. Arroyo chief of health and human services. Arroyo, a former city councilor and mayoral candidate, will command a larger portfolio than his predecessors in the Menino administration. Arroyo will oversee the Office of New Bostonians and the Boston Public Health Commission, in addition to the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, the Elderly Commission, and other city agencies.

Andrew Ryan can be reached at acryan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.
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