The Arctic Sounder

North Slope Borough to split the Department of Finance and Administration in two to streamline its functions

The North Slope Borough Department of Administration and Finance will be split in two to fix structural inefficiency, the borough mayor said.

The borough assembly unanimously approved the ordinance last week to separate the two divisions “to enhance specialization, efficiency, streamline processes, and improve accountability,” according to the ordinance.

“Splitting the Administration and Finance Department will help streamline the North Slope Borough’s operations by enhancing technological and financial capabilities, hone purchasing and procurement procedures, and position the departmental functions as a more efficient, forward-looking government ready to best serve its residents,” North Slope Borough Mayor Josiah Patkotak told Arctic Sounder.

According to the ordinance, the mayor will appoint the director of the Department of Finance who shall act as the borough treasurer and will remain subject to confirmation by the assembly.

During the public hearing section of the assembly meeting, several employees spoke up against the split.

Crystal Tulai, travel division manager at the Department of Administration and Finance, expressed her concern about losing her job and needing to reapply for her position.

“We have had no reassurance of job security, despite being a classified employee,” she said. “Why fix something that is not broken?”


Patkotak assured her during the meeting that employees won’t need to reapply for their positions.

“Somebody said that they feel targeted. I want to clarify, the only thing I’m targeting is structural inefficiency,” Patkotak said.

April Brooks, a division manager at the department under the Network Services Division, as well as several other testifiers, said there wasn’t enough communication with employees about the decision.

“You have disrupted a whole department. There’s 140 of us,” Brooks said. “This is not in the best interest of the borough.”

Patkotak said he hopes that the division of the department and streamlining its functions will, among other things, make it easier to hire people to work there. He said that the department leadership have had issues seeking talent even for high-level positions, and part of the reason might have been that those positions require running a “cumbersome department.”

“I’ve identified the Department of Administration and Finance as a weakness of the borough, meaning that we aren’t able to capitalize on both functions of the administration side and the finance side,” Patkotak said. “Those two functions of the borough essentially sharpen all the tools for every department to utilize.”

“The change is going to happen so that we can see the borough we want to see that’s going to be efficient and economical and responsive to the will of the people.”

The borough assembly voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance, and it became effective upon adoption.

Alena Naiden

Alena Naiden writes about communities in the North Slope and Northwest Arctic regions for the Arctic Sounder and ADN. Previously, she worked at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.