Need to put process behind decisions |

Need to put process behind decisions

Paul Randeau Special to the Daily

On July 11, my initial “How To Achieve Better Government” was published in the Daily. The key points included:

– If you are not improving, you are likely going backwards, and if you can’t measure where you are – you don’t know.

– If you measure, the metrics form the backbone of an improvement program. The focus includes assessing the PROCESSES that produce service outputs (e.g. the way some form of paperwork is processed) or supporting aspects (e.g. effectiveness of the employee performance and evaluation procedure).

– Challenge your elected officials to produce a comprehensive annual report depicting improvement actions and results.

– Once in place, service providers say, “How did we ever operate without it?”

– Improvement results are real – just as tangible as increased revenue or decreased expenses using stop-gap, top-down cuts.

Hence, these notions do affect your tax dollars as stakeholders.

Since the article was published, I have heard comments:

– These improvement programs are from the corporate world and won’t work in government–since the profit motive is missing.

– We’ve tried doing all this measuring, and nothing happened.

– This is just another “efficiency” program.

These comments are perfectly valid IF the concepts are not implemented properly. Typical shortcomings include half-hearted “buy-in” by senior management and expectations of instant payoffs.

One may well ask “can’t government organizations, elected officials or government managers be successful without getting involved with all this stuff?” Why limit the question to government organizations? Any organization or its senior managers may well be considered successful without ever supporting such a program, but they will never know how much better things could have been.

Here’s an example where they did go that extra step. The General Electric Corp. and Jack Welch – one of the most respected companies and CEOs for years – operated quite well without a program visible to the shareholders until sometime in the 1990s. But now, GE’s Six Sigma program gets highlighted upfront within the opening summary in their annual report. That’s commitment and visibility.

In the initial article, I brought up the notion that elected officials need to assess how they operate in terms of making critical decisions – is it organized or based on “Kentucky windage”? Especially important with a small number of elected decision makers.

Ironically, a current example has surfaced – i.e. the first use of the open space tax. The Bair Ranch conservation rights may be purchased partly from your open space tax dollars. This is happening without a decision protocol in place and without the 14-person, Open Space Advisory Committee selected.

These features could have been in place before Bair Ranch came up, but sadly they wern’t. The advisory commision would have provided a comprehensive analysis of multiple viewpoints.

There are pros and cons for every decision – and any good proposal will prevail. In the case of the Bair Ranch conservation purchase, the proposed outcome seemingly will be the right decision. But we will not be left with a decision formula that can serve as guidance for the next Bair Ranch situation.

So what are government elected officials, would-be candidates and town/county managers to do?

My suggestion is they learn more about improvement programs and utilize the wealth of skilled (and likely volunteer) talent in our surrounding communities. And stakeholders (full and part-time residents), challenge your government to “get with the program.”

They are spending your money.

Paul Randeau is a resident of Vail.

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