Commissioners decide what needs to happen and when
The Gunnison Board of County Commissioners adopted a strategic plan late last month, organizing all of the county’s goals for the next five years, setting dates the goals should be met by and naming the people charged with making it happen.
According to county manager Matthew Birnie, the plan, the first of its kind for the county, is meant to provide clarity to the priorities of the commissioners, ensure that there is always something for the staff to work toward and a timetable for when the work should be done.
The plan will also give the public a way to measure the progress being made in county government.
“This gives a road map to all the things we’ve been talking about getting done and it doesn’t mean that things won’t come up that we have to pay attention to, but this provides a framework for folks to manage from,” said Birnie.
The plan breaks down the county’s strategic priorities into four broad areas: protect the environment, promote healthy communities, ensure sound infrastructure, and deliver high-quality services. The board made it clear that they want each priority to hold equal importance.
Under each section are listed key strategies that identify the necessary steps to take before the larger goal can be reached. Each has a date that the board hopes to have results by.
According to the plan, “By 2012, the Board will strengthen the governance, structure and funding of the Gunnison County Housing Authority to achieve greater transparency, efficiency and regional support.”
Then, under Key Strategies there is a list that, if followed, provides a step-by-step process that will lead to accomplishing that broad goal.
Each of those steps is then listed with a date when it should be completed, gradually leading up to a second and final date when the commissioners will be able to review the team’s final product.
“The next step, pursuant to this adoption, will be the ongoing review of this, changing some of these dates and things like that. We want this to be a living, dynamic document,” said Birnie.
Part of the dynamic nature of this document is creating vague goals that require team members to think creatively.
After the first year of implementation, the board recommends, the plan should be reviewed quarterly to update it and monitor the progress of each of the teams. Until then the plan will be reviewed at least every six months.
Each of the goals is assigned to a team of county staff members with expertise in a related area; each team has a leader, usually someone from the county’s administration who also has related experience. The team leader will provide the board with updated information.
There is also an implementation document, not included in the Strategic Plan, that provides information about resources available to the teams and the roles different members of the teams will play, said Bernie. “But that stuff is really dynamic, so we didn’t want that to be part of the static [plan].”
Birnie continued, “But once this plan is adopted we’ll integrate all of this into an implementation plan. The next step is to dive into the departments and do a facilitated strategic business plan for all of the boards.”
For the rest of this year, the hope is to use the plan to develop a facilitated strategic business plan for each of the county’s boards, in an effort to make them more efficient.
“Then, rolling into 2009, we’re probably going to use a more internally generated process, where we were going to take five departments to do strategic business plans with and include some facilitation, but less on-site consulting to stretch those resources out,” said Birnie, referring to the money spent on outside consultants under contract.
“[The strategic plan] could be seen as restrictive but I think it is really liberating for most folks because there are so many issues, it’s very difficult, sometimes, to prioritize the resources, the time and the energy,” he said, referring to the process it details.