Success In Government Requires Goals, Why Don’t We Have Any?

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Paul Wolf

The City Council in Buffalo and the Erie County Legislature spend a great deal of time on constituent concerns and proclamations honoring various individuals and community groups. As such very little time if any is spent on setting goals and measuring the performance of government departments.

In an effort to encourage big picture thinking, I recently prepared and forwarded by e-mail to City Councilmembers and County Legislators a Resolution calling for the establishment of departmental goals. Not one elected official expressed an interest in introducing a Resolution calling for the establishment of goals and monitoring the performance of departments in achieving their goals. The only County Legislator who responded stated to me that he liked the idea of setting goals for each department but he was afraid of angering the County Executive whose good side he wanted to remain on. It appears that performance based government in the Buffalo, NY area has a long ways to go.

In many other communities performance based government is alive and well. Recently I came across a news headline “Ventura council reviews city departments’ performance”. In Ventura, (population 106,000), each department reports performance information to the seven member City Council quarterly. The goals established in Ventura and their success is very specifically defined and measured. While the performance information provided to the Ventura Council contains a lot of stats, the information is also presented in a very visual way with a lot of charts.

The first step in achieving anything as a person or an organization is to set goals. Why do you think elected officials in Buffalo and many other communities do not establish goals for the departments they oversee?

www.reinventinggov.org

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