County Issues

Surveying Our Performance
William Prather, Peoria County Board

In business, you often hear the term “performance measurement” mentioned in reference to productivity and growth. The same holds true for units of government. Since the adoption of its strategic plan, Peoria County has established performance measurement standards for each department within the organization. Performance is measured regularly, and each measurement tool is periodically re-evaluated to ensure it remains aligned with our strategic goals. Ultimately, of course, the goal of performance measurement is improvement.

If Peoria County were only to measure performance within the organization, however, we would be doing our citizens a grave disservice. Certainly, internal review is beneficial to measuring productivity and setting goals, but how are we viewed externally as a service provider, and how can we ensure our goals align with the future citizens see for themselves? As public servants, the County Board cannot make assumptions about our constituents’ perceptions and desires and, at the same time, remain accountable as their representatives. We must measure our performance and forge our future in partnership with the citizens we serve.

This winter, therefore, Peoria County is participating in the International City/County Management Association’s National Citizen Survey (NCS) and embarking on a new path of performance measurement, allowing the citizens themselves to benchmark our service and productivity performance for years to come. Not only will the NCS gauge resident attitude about service delivery, it will also determine resident opinion of quality of life in Peoria County, measure activity participation levels and further strengthen local demographic data.

Three thousand households in Peoria County will receive the citizen survey this month. Households are randomly selected to help ensure results are representative of the community as a whole; we encourage the return of all surveys for the same reason. The survey is a vehicle through which recipients of government services—you—can partner with local government policy makers to determine where we are today with service provisions and where we want to be tomorrow with productivity and growth.

In addition to strengthening our partnership with our citizens, the NCS grants Peoria County an opportunity to compare our survey results with other jurisdictions similar in size and demographic profiles. The results of our survey and these jurisdictional comparisons will enable us to identify areas in need of improvement, the ultimate outcome of any performance measure. In the spirit of full disclosure, the survey results will be available on our website this spring: www.peoriacounty.org.

As with any business that provides a service, we cannot adequately measure productivity and growth without initially establishing a benchmark. Peoria County’s first National Citizen Survey is a valuable tool against which we will measure our community improvement progress in future survey years. And, more importantly, periodic surveying will serve to keep the county board informed of citizen opinion as we contemplate and establish short- and long-term goals for the future. IBI

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