July 3, 1995
Honorable Rodney Melville, Presiding Judge
Santa Barbara Superior Court
312 East Cook Street
Santa Maria, CA 93454
Subject: My Response to the Grand Jury's Interim Final Report on the Management of County Government
Dear Judge Melville,
Enclosed is my departmental response to the above referenced Grand Jury report. While the apparent bulk of the response may alarm some readers, much of the enclosure is a re-printing of the Grand Jury's report with my comments interposed, where appropriate. Hopefully this will contribute to readability.
For the sake of those who will not have time to read the entire response, let me briefly summarize my positive and negative responses to the report.
Areas of Agreement
1. The Grand Jury appropriately focused on the need for the County to update the mission, goals, and program statement adopted by the Board of Supervisors in early 1992. Much has happened in and to Santa Barbara County government since that time. A revisiting of this statement and the 1990 Santa Barbara County Administrative Office Management Review/Strategic Plan to reflect the values and priorities the Board of Supervisors would be valuable for the organization.
2. The Grand Jury correctly pointed out the need for the County to compile centrally a document which includes each department's mission, goals, objectives, and ultimately, performance measures. This has been a largely decentralized activity to date. This week we are issuing a supplement to this Grand Jury response which includes the current departmental missions, goals, objectives, and examples of some departments achievements that involved strategic planning. Upon completion of the County's update of its overall mission, goals, and program statement during 1995-96, departments will be asked to update their own mission, goals, and objectives. These will then be compiled and maintained by our office in a single volume. This will assist in periodic future reviews to insure that departments and the Board of Supervisors are proceeding in the same direction.
3. The current County Administrator Ordinance was substantially revised in 1991. As suggested by the Grand Jury, it may well be appropriate for the Board of Supervisors to evaluate the ordinance and make further changes as they see appropriate.
4. The Grand Jury has appropriately taken me to task for my tardiness in completing periodic performance evaluations of appointed departments. While I have reasons for this shortcoming, they do not override the fundamental correctness of the Grand Jury's criticism. Many of these evaluations have been completed, and several are in progress. My goal is to have them all completed by the end of the summer.
5. The Grand Jury clearly spent a great deal of time and effort researching this matter and reflecting on their findings. As a volunteer group of citizens, their hard work is to be noted and applauded.
Areas of Disagreement
1. The Grand Jury too frequently failed to cite specifics. Often their observations were general and vague, and evidence for their conclusions was lacking. The use of more specific examples would have enhanced their report.
2. The Grand Jury failed to take note of important accomplishments of the Board of Supervisors and County management as well as the amount of change that has occurred in the County over the last 3-1/2 years. My response touches on both of these areas and I hope readers will take a moment to review them. They begin on pages 18, and 29 respectively.
3. The Grand Jury's report faults the County for not having an overall management system, philosophy, or approach. Such concepts as Total Quality Management, Management by Objectives, Systems Analysis, and other modern management concepts are useful. I am not convinced that adopting any specific management philosophy or approach, per se, will improve how the County operates.
4. The Grand Jury report seems to find fundamental fault with our political system's process of selecting members of the Board of Supervisors, and elected department heads. The report also finds fault with the performance of unidentified former and/or current members of the Board of Supervisors and unidentified elected department heads. As an appointed administrator, this is beyond my area of responsibility. However, I found myself wondering what the Grand Jury would recommend to replace our system, which relies on the voters to select and evaluate the performance of these officials.
5. The "bottom line" of management is results. In a service organization such as the County, the ultimate measure of our success is the variety and level of services we provide the public, and how effectively and efficiently we provide those services. The Grand Jury's report provided little evidence that the County provides an insufficient number of services, or that service levels are too low, or that these services are ineffective, or that we provide services inefficiently.
Every organization can always improve what it does, and how it does it. The County Board of Supervisors, the department heads, and I, along with our outstanding work force will continue to strive towards these goals. This Grand Jury report is one of the tools we can use to help us evaluate how to achieve them.
Kent M. Taylor
cc: Robert Glick, Foreman, 1995-96 Grand Jury
Each Member, Board of Supervisors
Each Department Head
Each Deputy County Administrator
Each Administrative Analystg:\l&j\grndjury\melvil73.kt