Top U.S. County Reinvents Government Planning and Performance - InformationWeek

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4/11/2008
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Top U.S. County Reinvents Government Planning and Performance

Maricopa County links performance metrics, financial plans and strategic goals. Microsoft PerformancePoint dashboards keep managers, employees and budgets on track.

Not many U.S. counties can match Maricopa County, Arizona, on sheer scale. It covers 9,224 square miles (larger than several Eastern states), and it boasts 3.8 million residents, making it the fourth-most-populous county in the U.S. The county also encompasses eight out of the state's ten most-populous cities, including Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Glendale, Scottsdale and Tempe.

The fourth-most-populous county in the U.S., Maricopa County is larger than seven Eastern states
The fourth-most-populous county in the U.S., Maricopa County is larger than seven Eastern states.
(click image for larger view)
Miricopa County government also hopes to top the charts in one other respect: the scale of a performance management initiative aimed at linking expenditures to results, thereby improving transparency and accountability to citizens. Built over the last nine months, the system is currently in use by more than 400 power users, but it will be rolled out to more than 14,000 other county employees this summer. Ultimately, the county hopes to extend access to all residents so they can see exactly what they're getting for every tax dollar collected and spent.

A NEW WAY TO GOVERN

The roots of Maricopa County's strategic planning efforts date back eight years to the embrace of a model called "Managing for Results" (MFR). Adopted by a number of states and cities, MFR dates back to the early 1990s and was given a significant boost when federal agencies implemented the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act. According to the Government Accounting Standards Board, which is the official source of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for state and local governments, the act required federal agencies "to develop comprehensive strategic plans and then to evaluate whether the agency in question is actually making progress toward the goals and objectives set forth in the strategic plan."

That sounds a lot like performance management, and indeed "MFR is akin to a Kaplan/Norton-style Balanced Scorecard for government," says Stephen Wetzel, Maricopa County's CIO. "Over the last seven to ten years, MFR has taken hold in the public sector because it puts the emphasis on results. It helps us see how what we do today achieves desired outcomes and aligns with strategic priorities set by our Governing Board."

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