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Mayor Walsh shakes up Cabinet structure

Mayor Martin J. Walsh unveiled plans today that aim to reduce the number of Cabinet-level positions in his administration, improve collaboration among like-minded departments, and improve services for residents of the city.

The new structure would make good on Walsh’s campaign pledge to elevate arts and culture in his administration and establish a chief of economic development who would oversee the Boston Redevelopment Authority, an agency Walsh has targeted for reform.

But the mayor’s plan also includes removing three key areas that had long been part of the Cabinet structure. They are the Boston Housing Authority, Boston Public Health Commission, and Property and Construction Management.


“They will not be part of the Cabinet,” said Walsh’s chief of staff Daniel Arrigg Koh.

Koh said the new structure would better coordinate efforts and improve efficiency in the delivery of services to residents. The cabinet members will meet weekly with the mayor and communicate Walsh’s directives to the departments they oversee. Koh said that as chief of staff he will be in charge of announcing major policy decisions by the mayor, including those on hiring.

“It’s a much smaller group,’’ Koh said. “We’re able to work together and coordinate with one another in a way that previously was not possible.”

Boston’s city charter gives mayors wide latitude to organize their administration. In 1995, Menino, the city’s longest serving mayor, implemented a cabinet-style structure with nine members to spur interdepartmental communication and strategic research, according to the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. When he left office this year, Menino had 20 people in his cabinet.

The new Cabinet would make good on Mayor Martin Walsh’s pledge to elevate arts and culture.Joanne Rathe/ globe staff

Walsh’s plan calls for a 17-member cabinet in a slightly different hierarchial structure.

Five of the Cabinet members are Walsh’s closest aides: They are Koh; chief of policy Joyce Linehan; corporation council Eugene O’Flaherty; chief communications officer Lisa Pollack; and chief of operations Joseph Rull.


The mayor also merged departments with similar interests and tweaked cabinet titles. There is now a “Joint Chiefs of Public Safety” that includes Police Commissioner William Evans, Acting Fire Commissioner John Hasson; and Emergency Management chief Rene Fielding.

Under the mayor’s plan, the chief of health and human services Felix Arroyo will take on a larger role and oversee 13 departments, including the public health commission, emergency medical services, the Office of New Bostonians and Boston Centers for Youth and families.

The other cabinet positions are chief of education; chief of environment, energy and open space; chief of finance and budget; chief of information technology; and chief of streets, transportation and sanitation.

Some of the positions are not filled. Koh said the mayor expects to fill those vacancies soon

Meghan E. Irons can be reached at meghan.irons@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @meghanirons.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described who the head of the housing authority will report to.