Information Exchange
Performance Improvement
Municipal Independence

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About the Institute

Who We Are
The Cordillera Institute is an independent research and public-policy organization dedicated to excellence in local government.  In an era when government, almost everywhere, is being centralized and expanded, local government is becoming an endangered species.  Each year, more of our communities are losing their local government to annexation, to forced merger, or to take-over by senior government.  Yet, history and our research have shown us that we the people are best served when each of our communities is self-governing – when each community has its own local government.  But before that worthy objective can be achieved, our surviving local-government organizations must demonstrate excellence – to senior government and to the public.  We're proud to play a role in assisting you to achieve excellence in local government.
Our Members are individuals and organizations involved with local government, in both the public and private sectors.  They include:
municipal mayors, supervisors, reeves, wardens, and chairpersons;
councilmembers, aldermen, controllers, councillors, and trustees;
municipal managers, administrators, legislative officers, and clerks;
municipal finance officers, treasurers, comptrollers, and auditors;
municipal associations;
senior government agencies and officials;
accountants, auditors, and management consultants;
lawyers, planners, engineers, and surveyors;
economic developers, community builders and developers;
business and community leaders;
academics; and
concerned citizens.
Meeting a Critical Need
Our mission is to be a catalyst – to empower municipalities, school boards, public utilities, hospital boards, and other local public agencies to achieve excellence.  This is a 2-step process.
The 1st is to be a resource.  Being a resource involves identifying effective solutions to the challenges confronting local government and communicating those solutions as widely as possible.  As important as that activity is, it's only the 1st step.  It's not enough to make the tools available.  To achieve excellence, we have to pick up those tools and use them.  So, ...
The 2nd is to be a scorekeeper.  Being a scorekeeper means measuring the results our local-government agencies are obtaining and comparing those results in a meaningful way with their peers.  In this way, you will be able to see just how accountable and productive your organization is.  We expect that good performance will receive the appropriate recognition and that those wishing to improve will find success stories to apply.
In these challenging times, knowledge is the key that will enable those seeking innovative solutions and striving to improve the performance of their organizations to be at their most effective.  Membership in the Cordillera Institute is an excellent investment in keeping fully informed and in being part of an important network of innovators in the local-government field.
Achieving Excellence
For each local-government agency, excellence has 2 key components:
accountability in the political role – that is to define your mandate and respond to ever-changing conditions in the most responsible manner; and
productivity in the administrative role – that is to design and implement the best programs to carry out your mandate effectively and efficiently.
Excellence in any field is best achieved by building quality organizations.  Quality organizations, in turn, are built by developing cultures of continuous improvement.  Continuous-improvement cultures are developed by empowering everyone involved to realize their potential, in line with the objectives of their organizations.  People are empowered by learning to integrate the success elements into every aspect of their work.  So, achieving excellence starts with gaining an awareness of the success elements and the possibilities they offer.
What We Do
Many local public agencies are already on the road to building quality organizations.  Others are just starting on that exciting journey.  Any time you decide to travel a new road, it's very valuable to know what others encountered on that road, what they did along the way that worked well, and what they would avoid in future.  Having that information can save you invaluable time and conserve your resources.  It can also inspire confidence in your people to know that such a journey can be successfully completed.  Our role is to bring you that information.
Making It Happen
We devote our resources to helping those working for or with local public agencies to achieve excellence by enhancing the productivity and accountability of those organizations.  To accomplish our mission, we have created a number of programs specifically designed to support you on your journey to excellence.  These include research, publication, information exchange, and performance improvement.  For information on Institute programs, see the sidebar to the right or click on the Programs button below.
Institute Programs
To accomplish our mission, we have created a number of programs specifically designed to support you and your organization on your journey to achieving excellence in local government.
Research Program
Since our founding in 1994, we have studied many high-performance organizations to learn what makes them successful.  From this research, we have distilled a set of principles, paradigms, policies, programs, and practices which are the key elements of their success.  And, the search continues.  We are always interested in finding another success story in local government.  Will it be yours?
While much has been written about the achievements of larger cities, very little is available on small and medium-sized municipalities.  Yet, many of the real gems of local-government performance are found among these less-publicized organizations.  These innovators have not received the recognition they deserve.  Moreover, other local-government agencies, which want to improve their own performance but are unaware of what has been accomplished already, are left to choose between re-inventing the wheel or living with the status quo.  We want to change all that.  And, your organization can participate.
Publication Program
The centerpiece of this program is View from the Cordillera, our on-going commentary on achieving excellence in local government.  We have also published the Cordillera Institute Journal.  It features success stories in local government.  Articles focus on the solutions and how best to obtain them.  Written by the people responsible, they offer many ideas on what works and what to avoid on the journey to excellence.
To Access Our On-line Publications Catalog
To access the on-line catalog of publications available from our archives, just click here.
Information Exchange Program
Here is where our Members turn to meet their specific information needs.  Whether you have a quick question or a complex research assignment, this program can provide the answers.  It draws on a network of some 6,000 innovators in the field of performance improvement for local government.
The Information Exchange Program is built around the Information Network and consists of the following services:
the Network Listing Service;
the Network Access Service;
the Information Order Service; and
the Information Request Service.
This variety of services should enable you to obtain the information you require, using the options which best suit your budget.
Performance Improvement Program
The Performance Improvement Program offers 2 key initiatives proven to improve the performance of local-government organizations, from the largest city to the tiniest village or rural municipality.  You can read more about these initiatives by clicking on the following links.
the Local Government Performance Checkup; and
the Comparing & Sharing Initiative.
Each of our Municipal Members is eligible to participate in the Local Government Performance Checkup.  (If you are not yet a Municipal Member, you may participate by becoming one.)  This initiative enables participants to quickly and easily establish performance baselines for 11 key municipal functions.  Those baselines can be used to set performance goals and to measure progress toward achieving those goals over time.
For those local-government agencies wishing to use performance comparisons to drive performance improvement, we offer the Comparing & Sharing Initiative.  It empowers participants to use the comparisons from the Local Government Performance Checkup to identify the good practices that others are successfully applying.  It then gives you the opportunity to adapt those better practices to improve the performance of your organization.
Supporting Other Initiatives
In addition to our own programs, the Institute supports the initiatives of other organizations which share our objectives.  We have sponsored the Prize for Excellence in Local Government which was part of a larger improvement awards initiative for all levels of government conducted by the Fraser Institute.  When the Public Sector Quality Fair was launched in 1998, our Institute was an in-kind sponsor and our Director served on its Organizing Committee.  He also served on the Board of the Canadian Public Sector Quality Association, an organization which supports the adoption of quality service and management principles by all levels of the public service.
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