I'm here in Rhode Island at the GMIS International 2009 conference, and it's apparent that even though budgets are tight, local governments are still investing in training conferences that make sense and that ultimately benefit citizens. There's good attendance and sessions ranging from the coupling of 311 and local government metrics program to cloud computing (moderated tomorrow by yours truly).The vendor attendance is also good. One notable absence from the conference is Microsoft, and one not surprising new notable vendor is Google, which makes sense given Google's recent push into government enterprises.
In particular, the city performance metric program session, featuring leaders from Springfield, MA and Providence, RI left me feeling that this might be one of those programs that makes people proud to serve in government. It's a no-brainer: make it so that people see that their work has an impact. That is, measure what you care about, and make management decisions to support changing things that matter to citizens.
In the same way that good IT leaders introduce a sensible number of targeted metrics into their governance programs and then take action on the organization development, human resource management, process, and systems fronts, cities can work similarly around their services to achieve good results in the things that matter, both to employees and those they serve.
It's hard. It can be sticky. As the presenters said today, it requires getting everyone at the table, and not everybody gets along. Maybe your organization's goal today is simply to make it so that everybody gets along. It takes resources, but the models of success seem to include "use what ya got in a more sensible and coordinated way", so the resource load shouldn't be horrendous. But it left me feeling a little more optimistic about how local government can make life better here in this country.
I'm going to point them at these cloud resources for further reading, but if you read this first, you've got a leg up on the attendees. :)