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Stimulus Is No Place For Pork!

* $2.5 million for sliced ham in California
* $800,000 for a new, clean-air garbage truck in Phoenix
* $1.4 million to repair the door of a building in San Antonio
* $350,000 to replace and upgrade a dumbwaiter in Brooklyn

These are examples of projects that have been reported on recovery.org as stimulus projects. It remains to be seen if they will be stimulative.

The underlying question is how to choose projects that will achieve the greatest impact – creating jobs and stimulating the economy. And more urgent, this type of transaction generally needs to be managed locally. In commercial enterprises, significant efforts are undertaken to capture the Voice of the Market and Voice of the Customer in order to determine the best strategies to achieve the mission. And, despite the sense of urgency around writing the checks and spending the money, it is fair to say that similar efforts must take place at the state level to make the best and most effective decisions possible in managing the funds.

While government is clearly not a business, many of the tools and methods that work in business can also work in government. Only state governments truly understand their local Voice of the Market and Voice of the Customer with regards to what efforts will have the most significant impact. Stimulus funding in Michigan would clearly not have the same impact as the exact dollar for dollar usefulness in the same programs in Arizona. Michigan is an economy built on manufacturing and unemployment is high in those industries. Likewise Arizona is an economy built on retail and housing and unemployment remains high in those industries. It is important that stimulus funds address the root cause of the local issues and jump start industries with the greatest benefit to the people in those states.

While this may seem like a pie-in-the sky concept, it is actually readily doable. To choose local projects that have the greatest impact, state agencies should follow a simple roadmap:

-Determine where the highest unemployment is and prioritize projects which will impact those industries.
-Ensure that internal state processes and leadership of the agencies can process the funds and applications seeking funds for projects in those targeted areas.
-Look for projects that while not completely linked to the industry but might offer the opportunity for the unemployed to leverage their existing skills.
-For projects that require local or special district participation, make sure there is an infrastructure which supports the required collaboration.
-Finally, prioritize projects that can be delivered by local companies and resources. Sending the funds to a contractor that resides in another state or country will only minimize the impact the spending will ultimately have.

It is important for agencies at all levels to realize there is a difference between strategy development and strategy deployment. Strategy development was created at the federal level, but strategy deployment now should be executed at the local level. Just as John F. Kennedy once challenged the U.S. to adopt the strategy of traveling to the moon and returning… the actual deployment of that strategy was delivered by those closest to the opportunity and with the greatest expertise.

By Ron Wince, CEO of Guidon Performance Solutions
Post taken from The Ascent Blog: http://blog.guidonps.com

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