Looking Inward Helps Us Lead Forward

Mary Ardapple, Peoria County Board

A little over a year ago, Peoria County Board Chairman Andrew Rand introduced a new concept into county government: a committee comprised of board members and all countywide elected officials, including the chief judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit Court. I have the pleasure of serving as chairwoman of the county's Collaborative Committee as we work to improve communications between the County Board and elected officials, increase accountability throughout the organization, and implement internal efficiencies.

Last summer, Peoria County contracted with Matrix Consulting Group to conduct an organizational review that evaluated the overall efficiency and effectiveness of county operations, including staffing levels and resource management. Oversight of this initiative rested with the Collaborative Committee, and a steering committee of board members, elected officials and the county administrator was established to ensure the project proceeded on schedule. A draft of the evaluation was presented to the committee late last year, accompanied by the consultant's recommendations.

Peoria County conducted this study to help identify functions within the organization that might be performed more efficiently. Once identified, steps would then be taken to address the inefficiencies and potentially save the county money. Results of the study, however, largely suggest the county is operating as a high-performing public organization and living within its means to deliver services as effectively and efficiently as possible. But there is always room for improvement, as the recommendations in the final report indicate.

With review and evaluation of the organization now complete, the Collaborative Committee will oversee implementation of the recommended action steps in 2016. An internal work group that partners the board, elected officials, administration and information technology staff is currently determining the first phase of implementation. This team will work closely with elected and appointed offices to incorporate efficiency actions over the next several years, for the organization's success lies with the continued hard work and cooperative efforts of all departments to ensure an even more effective future.

Implementation of efficiency recommendations will also be incorporated into the county's strategic plan for 2016 and beyond. The Collaborative Committee intends to introduce an inclusive strategic planning process that will utilize open lines of communication to enhance organizational collaboration and fiscal stewardship, with the goal of clearly aligning outcomes of the efficiency study with the challenges facing local government. Additionally, the strategic plan and efficiency initiative will be assimilated with the 2017 budget process to better serve the community and further advance a culture of high performance throughout the organization.

Peoria County continues to be a leader in local government. We work collaboratively to identify areas of improvement, take appropriate actions to address inefficiencies, and endeavor to enhance our public performance to the benefit of those we serve. We lead by looking inward as well as forward, and I join the County Board and elected officials in looking forward to another productive year for the Collaborative Committee. We invite you to attend a future meeting or visit peoriacounty.org to learn how efficient local government works for you. iBi

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