Best Bureaucrat - 2003
In the summer of 2001, when St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay tapped him to take over the city-operated St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE), Tom Jones found a woeful mess. Some of SLATE's records had been left in boxes on the floor and the agency had about $7 million of federal Department of Labor money it hadn't spent. "Even to this day, I haven't figured that one out," says the 54-year-old Jones, former director of the state's division of workforce development. He went about spending the funds on fixing up the headquarters at 1017 Olive Street and paying for more job training and re-employment programs, because if SLATE didn't spend the funds, the agency was going to have to give much of the money back. In the Jones-led overhaul, SLATE's fiscal manager was dismissed and another official resigned. Under Jones, employers have become more confident in SLATE's ability to turn out well-trained, job-ready applicants. Jones is expanding training and job-finding assistance ranging from entry-level positions to professional jobs, including accountants and healthcare personnel. He has transformed the agency to the point where there is now talk of bringing together the job-training activities of the city and St. Louis County in a unique cooperative venture.