Thursday, January 25, 2007

Let's talk accountability...

County must reinvent itself

January 24, 2007

Any loss of "safety net" resources requires Douglas County to focus on fewer core services, rather than merely "thinning the soup." Therefore, the county must commit to reinvent itself. All departments, programs and functions must organize around concise missions, to ensure the efficient allocation of resources and performance of tasks assigned. This requires a highly articulated system of departmental and program improvement plans, within a continuous improvement model of governance.

Departmental or program improvement plans flow from mission statements. Mission statements are written to encapsulate the goals and intentions of stakeholders in undertaking to perform particular tasks. From the mission, a statement of facts follows. These facts define the current situation, with regard to the particular mission. The plan then turns to examples how other service providers perform the task, what innovations exist and what "best practices" have developed. Next, a plan would state goals that take into consideration how "best practices" are employed to meet local circumstances.

Action items are then stated, to include a concise statement of who is doing what, where, within what time frame and what indicators/benchmarks establish that the plans are executed. A statement of limitations provides a sense of what resources are necessary to enact the plan, what regulatory impediments exist that impair enactment and whether opportunities exist to restructure the regulatory environment or resource-build. Benchmarks provide opportunities to flex, as necessary, to meet practical circumstances and provide opportunities to alter course, or personnel.

Finally, a plan provides evaluation opportunities. What did we say we would do? What did we do? Successes? Failures? How do we improve?

A comprehensive system of planning tools prioritizes, correlates and articulates core services. Further, where the broader community is provided sufficient opportunities for buy-in and feedback, such a system would serve to rationalize, and de-politicize, the required reorganization.

Tony Larson

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