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View from the Cordillera

A Commentary on Achieving Excellence in Local Government
Read by Municipal Leaders on 4 Continents
Published by the Cordillera Institute

Measuring Your Performance
The Case for Performance Measurement (Vol. 1, Issue 4)
For our local governments to make a credible case for independence, we must be able to demonstrate and document that we are handling our current responsibilities well.  Returning to the teenager analogy, if we can't show that we are doing a good job of taking out the garbage or cutting the lawn, can we really expect our 'parents' in senior government to take us seriously?  This issue covers the basics of measuring the performance of our local governments.  Suppose, for the moment, that the value of performance measurement is limited — limited to its proven effectiveness in building quality organizations.  (Some limits, you say?)  Even if that were so, I would still recommend its use by every municipality.  But, as you will see in this issue, it can do even more than that.  It can serve as an important part of your on-going communications program and it may even play a role in the very survival of your municipality.

Using Performance Measurement to Improve Municipal Performance (Vol. 1, Issue 5)
With an understanding of the immense potential of performance measurement, how might your organization put it to work?  Virtually every local-government agency has some aspect of its performance that it would like to improve.  And, there may be other areas of performance which are not on the 'wish list' but which require action.  So, where do you start?  To answer that, you need to make a realistic evaluation of your operations.  What does your municipality do well?  What is in need of improvement?  Those operations (or activities or services) which fall into the 2nd category should be your focus.  The approach described in this issue is known as internal comparison.  It compares, over time, performance within the same organization.  Recognizing what a sound investment performance comparison can be, a method of leveraging that investment is examined.

Comparing Your Performance with Your Peers (Vol. 1, Issue 6)
In this issue, we explore another way to leverage your investment in performance improvement — external comparison.  External comparison simply means comparing the performance of your organization with that of other organizations.  These other organizations may include:
• other municipalities;
• other public-sector agencies;
• non-profit organizations; and
• other organizations in the private sector.
The focus of this piece is on comparing performance with other municipalities but it is equally applicable to other local-government agencies.

Recession-Proofing Your Municipality: Improving Your Performance (Vol. 3, Issue 40)
Since the publication of our commentary on how to survive the current economic downturn [Issue 03.38], we've been asked to provide more information on what makes a successful performance-improvement program.  As the economy continues to contract, revenue from the 2 primary sources for almost all of our local governments will be reduced.  For those expecting federal bailouts to fill the gaps, we have some words of caution.  And, unless this current economic downturn is soon reversed, the focus of our local governments will shift to doing more with less — as it has in past recessions.  The good news is that there are remedies for surviving tough economic times which are just as effective when the economy is growing.  One of those is improving the performance of our local governments.  In this issue, we discuss the 3 key elements of successful performance-improvement programs, review some of the other must-dos, examine why some local governments are reluctant to take the plunge, and offer solutions to meet those challenges.  And, since those who must justify the investment in any program want to know the expected return on that investment, we introduce a method to uncover the savings hidden in your budgets.

Recession-Proofing Your Municipality: Uncovering the Hidden Savings in Your Budget (Vol. 3, Issue 41)
This commentary introduced our Local Government Performance Checkup (LGPC).  So, most of that text has been reproduced as the prospectus for that Institute initiative.  [You will find the prospectus for LGPC here.]

Improving the Performance of Infrastructure and Service Delivery (Vol. 3, Issue 45)
This issue is part 6 in our series on recession-proofing your municipality.  A key part of recession-proofing is improving performance.  So, how can we determine the performance of our infrastructure?  And, how can we improve that performance?  In this issue, we see how this can be done in ways which will grow the economy.  Then, we turn to service delivery.  Can improving service delivery grow the economy?  Yes, if we ensure that the remedies we choose have a proven track record such as those described in this issue.  Those remedies include how services are delivered as well as the way in which services are charged to the public.  Next, those remedies are applied to improving our education and health-care systems.  If, as local governments, we avoid priming the pump and, instead, invest in the types of improvements which will grow the economy and if we encourage our senior governments to do the same, we will not only be recession-proofing our municipalities, we will contribute to shortening the duration of the current economic downturn.

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