Looking for strategic planning inspiration? F&A recently produced a webinar in partnership with OpenGov designed to spark ideas on how your government can make small and meaningful changes to improve the budget framework and align the budgeting process with strategic priorities.
You can watch the recording here. Keep reading for the event recap.
The overarching message was that transparency, accountability and data can boost collaboration and trust. Strategic planning that aligns with all parts of the budget is one way to achieve this goal. Here’s how:
Transparency. When department heads have access to things like budget and other spending information outside their own agency, they are better able to see where they fit within the organization.
“Make sure you’re talking about the interdependent nature of what is best for your organization, and how to help people in your community understand the organization is here to serve all.”
–LaShon Ross, Deputy City Manager, Plano, TX
Accountability. Strategic planning goals often don’t encompass all parts of the budget, leaving out large portions of public spending and planning. “It’s about getting that whole entire budget—getting everything we’re doing to align to those common goals…so that every single activity has a strategic approach,” said Mark Welch, Director of Solution Consulting at OpenGov.
Tracking and owning up to what’s not working is just as important as identifying what’s going well. Negative and unwanted trends are an opportunity for a course correction. In Kansas City, Budget Director Krista Morrison said her organization is launching an internal and external-facing performance metrics dashboard. “It’s OK not to do your best and it’s OK to fail, she said. “The important thing is getting to and understanding the underlying reasons why.”
Data. Access to data is not the same as using it. Using it to inform decision-making is Step One. Step Two is implementation.
Stanley Earley, Director of the Office of Management & Budget in Prince George’s County, MD, noted that data helps them determine the decisions they should be making but “the biggest issue is getting the data to drive that process.”
Collaboration and Trust. Finding common purpose and outcomes is a community effort. Find your allies and include them in information-sharing. Recognize that not all your goals are created equal—that one department’s strategic initiative might be less of a priority from the community’s perspective. And remember that “more” engagement might mean more of what’s working well, rather than spreading out your resources.
“Spending money on street repairs doesn’t mean they’ll all be repaired. Make sure you are aligning your measures with the reality of the community conditions your residents are living in every day,” said moderator and F&A President Mark Funkhouser. “If they think you’re not describing what they’re actually experiencing, your credibility is hurt.”
If you would like to learn more about putting some of these ideas into action, contact OpenGov.