Idaho Department of Commerce lays off two administrators

October 8, 2013 

A deck reshuffling at the Idaho Department of Commerce has left two high-ranking administrators without jobs.

Karen Ballard, head of the Division of Tourism, and Damien Bard, head of the the International Division, were laid off at the end of the day on Friday, Oct. 4.

Department Director Jeff Sayer said the cuts were made as part of the creation of two teams, one focusing on stimulating new business in the state and one dedicated to helping the growth of existing Idaho businesses.

"We are going to align those teams together so we can capture synergies and be more effective together," Sayer said. "Once we aligned the teams, the question came down: How do we streamline this so we have an efficient organization? In that moment, we realized the need to eliminate two positions at the top."

The Department posted job ads for the open positions. Sayer said the positions change from administrative to team-leading. Ballard, who made $63,398 in 2012, and Bard, who made $70,106, can apply for the new, lower-ranking positions. Ballard said in a Facebook post that she will not apply. Bard could not be reached for comment.

Sayer said the reorganization will save the department money, even after filling Bard and Ballard's positions and hiring a new administrator for the Division of Business Creation. A job ad for a third position is also posted on the state site.

Sayer said savings from the reorganization would be distributed among department employees.

"This move was made thinking about the next decade," Sayer said. "We know in the next few years that the economy is going to pick up. One of the most important things for us is to retain our people. State government is among the first to lose employees to the private sector when the economy picks up. I don't want to lose our team members."

The amount left over from the $133,504 freed up by the layoffs that will be available for Department employees remains unclear. The positions once held by Ballard and Bard are advertised at a salary range of $46,000 to $89,000 each. The ad for the Division of Business Creation administrator doesn't list a salary range.

Sayer said the reorganization was his decision, not Gov. Butch Otter's.

"We've had the governor's full support in this process because they know what our objective has been as we look ahead to the next decade," Sayer said.

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