July 18, 1995
Response to the Grand Jury's Interim Final
Report on the Management of County Government
The Grand Jury's report on the Management of County Government provides the Board of Supervisors with the opportunity to step away from the trees and examine the health of the forest.
The recommendations are helpful in reminding all of us in county government that, in spite of pressing fiscal concerns and the attention that must be paid to urgent and often unanticipated issues that arise, we can only perform at our best in the context of clearly articulated purposes, programs and priorities, with a commitment to ongoing system improvements and efficiencies.
Given the changing nature of community needs, financial resources and legislative mandates, this must be a dynamic process, re-examined with regularity.
This is the challenge the Grand Jury has presented to each Board member and the County Administrator. The citizens of this county deserve no less.
Recommendation #la: Concur. The county's short and long term needs, as reflected in the Mission-Goals-Program, should be reexamined and revised as deemed appropriate. Current workloads will influence the timef rame for accomplishing this, but 60 days should be considered a reasonable goal.
Recommendation #lb: Concur. Specific strategies designed to carry out the Mission-Goals-Programs identified in #la should be identified as an immediate next step. The goal of the Board should be to complete this by the end of this calendar year, keeping the task in focus. If additional Board meetings are needed to meet this schedule, they should be planned.
Recommendation #lc: Concur. An annual review is appropriate and should regularly be scheduled in advance of budget preparation so as to insure the integration of proqrammatic and fiscal planning.
Recommendation #2: Both appointed and elected county department heads have submitted to the Grand Jury documentation of their mission statements, goals and performance measurements under separate cover. After the Board's actions pursuant to recommendation #1, these should be reviewed by the County Administrator and the Board as recommended by the Grand Jury, prior to the commencement of annual budget hearings.
Performance measures should be a part of this review and subsequently serve as an important tool in department head performance evaluations.
Recommendation #3a and #3b: See response to #2 above.
Recommendation #4a: Coming to consensus on clear and comprehensive goals and implementing strategies on an annual schedule can serve to relieve Board members of the need to influence "departmental operations" on an individual basis. However, without examples of what the Grand Jury means by "micro-managing" it is impossible to respond in greater detail.
Board members deal with county staff in various departments on a daily basis. Discussions of how particular staff members perform their work in the context of specific issues which arise can be mutually productive. This should not impair the "efficient chain of command" noted by the Grand Jury.
Recommendation #4b: The need to amend Article X to transmit policy directives through formal Minute Orders should be considered by the Board. It may or may not be deemed necessary or desirable.
Recommendation 3: The Board is presently in the process of updating the County Administrator's performance evaluation. The ordinance enumerating the County Administrator's responsibilities will be reviewed in this context.
It is agreed that the County Administrator must have the "authority and supportive environment" necessary to carry out his duties. For the past two fiscal years the County Administrator has recommended, and the Board has approved, reductions in his staff. In addition, reassigning one Deputy County Administrator to serve as interim director of the department of Agriculture and Environmental Management further diluted the capabilities of the Administrative Office.
Nonetheless, the essential qualities of an effective County Administrator leadership ability and a commitment to progressive organizational management - can be exercised even in these times of severe budgetary constraints.
Recommendation #5b: Performance evaluations are presently being completed. In the future, these should be coordinated with departments' revised goals and objectives.
Recommendation #6: See County Administrator's response to Finding #6.
Recommendation #7a: See Auditor-Controller's response. In January 1994 the Board directed the Auditor Controller to proceed with its proposed Five Year Audit Plan wherein management audits for all departments, on a rotational basis, will be performed by the Internal Audit division.
Recommendation #7b: See Auditor-Controller's response. Internal Audit should be directed to, circulate and evaluate the selfassessment management survey in coordination with the schedule for annual departmental review of goals, objectives and implementations.
Recommendation #lC: See responses to 7a and lb. Note that the District Attorney has expressed his view that any meaningful audit of that department must be done by a professional familiar with the complexities of the criminal justice system. If costly outside audits are warranted, they should be considered as deemed necessary. Self-assessment management audits, on the other hand, should be a regular part of doing business.
Recommendation #8: Exceptional performance should be recognized and encouraged, and incentives for achieving that should be developed. Cash rewards, however, are not the answer; the County lacks financial resources for this purpose, and its efficacy Is being called into question by many organizational professionals.
Recommendation #9: See the County Administrator's response
regarding the Suggestion Awards Program.
Also, please note the County Administrator's response to Finding #10, regarding structural changes which the Board has approved since 1992.
The Board wishes to express its appreciation to all the members of the 1994-95 Grand Jury for their conscientious effort in formulating these recommendations.