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Beyond the basics: Miami-Dade County's results-oriented government framework.

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Delivering services that meet and exceed the expectations of residents is an immense undertaking for any government, no matter the size. The planning, deployment, and cultural transformation required to establish a performance-focused government are complex and demanding. To meet this challenge, Miami-Dade County, Florida, has developed a results-oriented government framework that encompasses a series of practices and initiatives aimed at improving service quality.

Many local governments have developed strategic plans, and many use some form of performance measurement. Miami-Dade County's process, however, goes beyond these initial steps, establishing a multifaceted commitment to an organizational culture that is focused on results. This comprehensive approach has become the government's standard way of doing business. The county's strategic framework provides the structure: plan, measure, and monitor (see Exhibit 1).

STEP 1: PLAN

The final components of the county's first-ever strategic plan were adopted by a resolution in June 2003. These elements are organized in six comprehensive service areas and one internal support area: economic development, health and human services, neighborhood and unincorporated area services, public safety, recreation and culture, and transportation, along with enabling strategies. The county also developed mission statements, goals, strategies, and preliminary performance measures for each of its seven strategic areas.

The Miami-Dade County Strategic Plan is the cornerstone of the county's results-oriented government framework and its organizational culture. (Exhibit 2 provides an overview of the strategic planning process.) The vision, mission, and guiding principle statements provide focus for the county's overall activities, and components at each level are aligned with them. Specific goals, priority outcomes, and key performance objectives provide more detailed performance targets (see Exhibit 3 for an overview). The goal of this framework is to have the entire organization working toward the same results, and knowing what it takes to achieve them.

Business plans. Departmental business plans were redesigned to ensure that financial resources, policy, department operations, and county staff are aligned to achieve the goals and outcomes laid out in the 2003 Strategic Plan. Departments re-evaluate and update their business plans annually to reflect the County Strategic Plan and the final budget adopted for the year. In addition, departmental business plans address enhancements underway in the current fiscal year and identify programs and initiatives for the coming fiscal year. Departmental business plans then provide input for development of recommended budget priorities and serve as a communications tool for department staff and county policymakers.

The business planning process is reviewed and revised as necessary to strengthen the alignment of the strategic plan goals and priority outcomes with departmental objectives, programs, and initiatives. To reinforce the alignment between planning, and performance, Miami-Dade County business plans are posted on the Internet, along with corresponding quarterly reports. Because the departmental quarterly reports are generated from the same automated performance management system as the business plans, their formats are consistent, giving residents and employees simplified access to stated goals and actual performance.

Resource allocation. Before the results-oriented government framework was implemented, the budget process had determined the county priorities, rather than priorities determining the allocation of resources. Historically, departments had been given a target budget early in the budget process. Although each department was to emphasize priority areas in the balancing exercise, as a practical matter, the budget preparation was incremental in nature, concentrating on increasing or maintaining specific line-item allocations and service levels, regardless of available resources. Beginning in 2003, Miami-Dade County dramatically changed its budgeting process so that priorities identified early in the process guided the allocation of resources--a practice called "Resourcing for Results." Instead of holding departmental budget hearings addressing line items, departments now hold resource allocation meetings that focus on programs, priorities, goals, and performance measures consistent with the priorities listed in the strategic plan, departmental business plans, and direction from elected officials. The Resourcing for Results process is transparent, and decisions are easier for residents to comprehend. Requests for service improvements are directly linked to their effects on performance indicators, and each department is required to evaluate its budget submission in light of how well it aligns with the county's strategic plan. The overall proposed budget is then reviewed to match priorities and service levels with available resources.

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The resource allocation process is constantly evaluated and revised to refine and strengthen the alignment of desired outcomes and performance. All department directors conduct resource allocation meetings with the director and budget analysts from the Office of Strategic Business Management. These meetings are structured to emphasize performance, results from past enhancements, and expected results from requested enhancements.

STEP 2: MEASURE

Miami-Dade County has been collecting and analyzing performance measures through a quarterly reporting system for eight years, with the process evolving to more tightly align the measures in the departmental business plans with the overall strategic plan. To track performance data, key measures are loaded into a Web-based software database that displays the measures and data, and maps them to the county's strategic management framework. The software helps keep the county's managers focused on results and its operations aligned with the strategic goals and performance objectives. The software, which also allows managers to drill down from higher-level performance measures to more detailed measures, is a key instrument in helping achieve the cultural change required for tracking, managing, and using performance data to improve results.

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This automated system has significantly improved performance data collection, management, and communication because individual departments now input data in a systematic, standardized fashion. The data are then available for executive staff to query at various levels of detail within specific strategic areas or by individual departments. The county also implemented an "Initiative" process for addressing underperforming measures. When comprehensive analysis of the data collected by strategic areas and individual county departments shows a performance gap, the software can be used to create an initiative, or project linked to the issue, which highlights the problem and shows system users that it is being addressed. Future improvements to the system will result in improved data verification and reporting mechanisms, as the software interfaces with other data warehouses to allow for automated data population and real-time information.

More than 1,300 Miami-Dade County employees use the software. The county, which exceeded its initial goal of having 500 users trained within the first year of deployment, is constantly improving its conceptual and technical training on how to use this application. There is also an online resources page available through a help link within the application or through the county's Web portal.

STEP 3: MONITOR

Soon after the county's intense initial performance management training efforts in 2005, officials began to realize that a strategy was needed to institutionalize the new system. The challenge was making sure that rather than just using the system to load performance data, departments were also engaged in meaningful performance discussions and using this information to improve operations. As a result, the county mandated that each department conduct regular business review meetings--ongoing formal performance discussions, complete with a projector so scorecards and performance measures could be reviewed and discussed productively by a group.

The county devised a two-tier system for the meetings, one set of monthly reviews at the department level by the department director, and a second set of quarterly business reviews conducted by the County Manager's Office, which generally focuses on a single strategic area (e.g., public safety, recreation and culture, transportation, etc.). To overcome traditional obstacles in scheduling the reviews--such as not having enough time or conflicts in scheduling--the county manager created "Strategic Management Meeting Day," generally the third Friday of each month. Designating a specific day for these reviews not only emphasizes their importance but also places them on the calendars of county executives as regular and recurring meetings.

COMMUNICATING RESULTS

Each year, Miami-Dade County publishes its Progress Report to the Community, an easy-to-read report compiled from performance data including key measures from departmental scorecards, resident satisfaction survey results, and other departmental sources. The report, which is organized by the seven strategic areas comprising the strategic plan, focuses on the measures that matter most to taxpayers. To increase residents' access to the report, it is distributed at all Miami-Dade County Library branches, County Commissioners district offices, and the Government Center, and it is also mailed to residents who request it using the county's 311 Answer Center. There is also an online version that allows anyone to drill down in key areas to view more detailed information than what is available in the printed report.

At the beginning of the 2006 fiscal year, each department's business plan was posted on the Miami-Dade County Web site, enhancing the communication of performance to residents and departments. The progress report displays highlighted performance measures and the current data in a graphic form, along with the measure and objective titles. Data collection and analysis of measures has improved due to the enhanced level of visibility and the necessity for timely data entry. The current quarterly report started out as a manually compiled document that required many staff hours to deliver. Information had to be collected from various sources, followed by multiple layers of review in each dept, after which the central office would compile everything into a countywide report, which would also be reviewed. The quarterly report is now an automated document generated from each department's balanced scorecard in the automated performance management system. The county, in a coordinated effort with its software vendor, developed a Business Plan Report that produces a real-time snapshot of a department's performance for any given period. These documents are then linked with the department's current business plan, allowing users to evaluate the performance of strategic objectives and outcomes.

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Staff must use the automated software system to create the report, which helps integrate performance management methodologies into the fabric of county government. Two other important initiatives have assisted the county in moving to a performance-driven culture. One is the 311 Answer Center, which was officially launched in September 2005. The center, created to improve residents' access to county services, also feeds information to the performance management system, allowing staff to pinpoint service deficiencies and make performance improvements. The other initiative is the senior management appraisal process, which ties organizational performance directly to individuals and thus develops accountability

The senior management appraisal process was instituted in 2004. Individual performance objectives are based on the department performance objectives but are typically more specific or tactical in nature. Before they're included in the management performance appraisal form, the individual objectives are negotiated and agreed to by employees and their supervisors. Agreeing to the objectives at the outset of the evaluation period and allowing for unforeseen circumstances that could prevent goals from being achieved helps diminish any perception that performance measures are being used punitively Objectives are also weighted based on priority; generally, individual objectives that are directly linked to high-priority departmental objectives will be more heavily weighted in the management appraisal than other objectives. Individual performance objectives--which are linked to the related departmental business plan objectives--account for 50 percent of executives' performance ratings, which form the basis for increases to merit pay,

CONCLUSION

In establishing a results-oriented government framework, the county must continue to ensure that its residents, employees, and stakeholders see actual service improvements. Although Miami-Dade County has seen clear improvements in many areas, including resident satisfaction, other significant improvements in quality of services, such as on-time performance of public transit, will take time. And those improvements are possible through the county's sustained efforts and commitment to planning, measuring, and monitoring.

Links to Miami-Dade County's Strategic Management Activities

Strategic Planning details are available at http://www.miamidade.gov/stratplan/home.asp.

An actual department business plan and quarterly performance report are available at http://www.miamidade.gov/mppa/businessplans_main.asp.

Current and past budgets are available at http://www.miamidade.gov/budget/.

The "Progress Report to the Community" popular report is available at www.miamidade.gov/results.

The Business Plan Reports are available at http://www.miamidade.gov/mppa/businessplans_main.asp.

More information on the county's performance measures and management are available at http://www.miamidade.gov/mppa/measuring.asp.

More information on the county's performance monitoring and reporting are available at http://www.miamidade.gov/mppa/monitoring.asp.

RAY A. SCHER is assistant director, Miami-Dade County Office of Strategic Business Management.
Exhibit 3: Outlining the County's Comprehensive Service Areas

For each service area, county officials chose corresponding goals,
desired outcomes, strategies for achieving those outcomes, and
preliminary performance objectives or key performance indicators.
Information for one of those service areas--public safety--is
presented below. Details for all the service areas are available at
http://www.miamidade.gov/stratplan/home.asp.

Public Safety

Goals

Effectively provide the necessary and appropriate technology,
buildings, equipment, and people for delivery of quality
services, now and in the future.

* Provide comprehensive and humane programs for crime prevention,
 treatment, and rehabilitation

* Improve the quality of service delivery through commitment to
 ongoing employee training.

* Strengthen the bond between the public safety departments and
 the community.

* Improve public safety through the use of community planning and
 the enforcement of quality-of-life issues.

 Priority Key Outcome How We Plan to Measure Our
 Performance

* Facilities and resources built * Average fire rescue response
 and maintained to meet needs time from time dispatch receives
* Reduced response time (including life-threatening call from 911
 agricultural areas) and/or percentage of total fire
* Reduction in property loss and calls with a response time of
 destruction less than eight minutes from
 call entry to arrival and/or
 EMS-ALS average response time
 from Public Safety
 * Answering point to arrival
 * Police emergency average
 response time (minutes)
 * Percentage of survey respondents
 who rate crime in their
 neighborhood as a minor or
 major problem

* Improved homeland security * Development and implementation
 preparedness of a comprehensive plan for
 homeland security
 * Number of first responders
 trained and equipped for an
 emergency event
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Scher, Ray A.
Publication:Government Finance Review
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Aug 1, 2008
Words:2306
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