View from the Cordillera
A Commentary on Achieving Excellence in Local Government
Read by Municipal Leaders on 4 Continents
Published by the Cordillera Institute
An Introduction to Managed Competition
(Vol. 1, Issue 14)
Managed competition is a truly win-win approach to providing cost-effective local-government services. When he was City Engineer in Phoenix, Ron Jensen (a member of our Editorial Advisory Board) implemented a managed-competition program and achieved major improvements in service delivery and service costs. Later on, then-Mayor Stephen Goldsmith used managed competition as a key program in his revitalization of Indianapolis. No, you don't have to be a major city to benefit. In this issue, you will see how local governments of any size can tap its potential.
Managed Competition: A Tool for Achieving Excellence in Local Government
(Vol. 2, Issue 14)
Away back in 1978, Ronald W. Jensen introduced a program of municipal-private competition at the City of Phoenix where he was City Engineer and Director of Public Works. The Phoenix program, known as managed competition, was so successful that it was adopted by other municipalities who were concerned about delivering the best services at the best available price. Among those which adopted it was the City of Indianapolis, under then-Mayor Stephen Goldsmith. The transformation of Indianapolis brought international recognition to managed competition and its pioneer, Mr. Jensen. In 1996, he retired from Phoenix and went on to found Ron Jensen & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in managed competition and in the re-engineering of local government. He wrote this article at the time that he joined our Editorial Advisory Board. But, its message rings as clearly today as it did when it first appeared. And, you don't need to be a city to benefit from managed competition. It has been successfully applied in municipalities of all sizes.
A Status Report on Alternative Service Delivery
(Vol. 1, Issue 33)
Despite its proven success, alternative service delivery has become a subject of some controversy. A fair bit of this controversy stems from 2 popular myths about the role of local governments as service providers. So, before reporting on status, we examine these myths to see if they're supported by history. Next, we review the fundamental challenge government faces in the role of service provider and what effect that has had on its results. All of this background is offered to place the topic in its proper context. The next step is to set out the actual alternatives available to local governments looking for a different approach to service delivery. Included are 2 alternatives which are often missing from other such lists. Then, we answer the perennial question: how has it performed? As usual, we want to see what has worked and what hasn't. And, we want to see why some municipalities have put this program on hold. Our report concludes with a few thoughts on what the future may hold.
Local Government as Service Arranger: A Viable Option for Service Delivery
(Vol. 1, Issue 34)
This issue focusses on 1 of the roles in alternative service delivery which is not receiving the attention it deserves. That's the service-arranger role. More and more often, the public is questioning whether the services provided by government are the best value for the tax dollars spent. And, critics charge that those in government refuse to consider other service providers in order to protect their own fiefdoms. In this issue, we see how to reverse this troubling trend and regain the public trust. An important step in that process is to consider becoming a service arranger. We define the role of service arranger and describe how it works in practice. We review some of its benefits as well as its major challenges and conclude by seeing where it can best be applied.
Shared Services: A Vaccine for Forced Mergers
(Vol. 2, Issue 45)
Every Fall marks the start of a new flu season. There are public-service messages on radio and television urging us to have a flu shot. And, there's another virus in the air. But, it's not seasonal. It's with us year-round, just waiting for an opportunity to strike a new group of victims. That virus is municipal amalgamation. Like the flu, amalgamation can be fatal. Unlike the flu, amalgamation leaves few survivors. Fortunately, you can immunize your municipality from the amalgamation virus if you take action before it strikes. To help you recognize this virus, we note its early-warning signs. We then examine the reasons why it is not rejected by municipal 'immune systems'. To strengthen those systems against claims of duplication, we see how to identify surpluses in your personnel, facilities and equipment. With those results in hand, you'll be ready to look for opportunities to share services. To spark your creativity, a whole list of examples is offered. When you have found the right fit, you'll be prepared not only to answer your critics but to silence them. And, there's an added dividend. You'll be taking a big step towards earning the support of your community and a big step on the journey to excellence in local government.
Public-Private Partnerships: Turning Wish-List Entries into Reality
(Vol. 2, Issue 46)
This issue is part 1 of our 3-part series on P3s (public-private partnerships). In the previous issue, we looked at the sharing of services between and among municipalities. In this issue, we turn our attention to another category of shared services P3s. We define a P3 as an arrangement between a local-government agency and the private sector to develop, operate, or deliver facilities, equipment, or services. To keep the scope of our discussion manageable, we focus on arrangements which involve more than the simple payment of money in exchange for a good or service. If P3s are more complex than straightforward purchases, what makes them so attractive to local governments? In a nutshell, they enable you to acquire assets or obtain services for your community which would not be affordable through a conventional purchase. And, there are other advantages. We list 15. And, since P3s are good examples of win-win, we also list 9 opportunities which P3s offer the private sector. Of course, with virtually every opportunity, there are challenges. We list 9 of those which are most commonly encountered, together with effective remedies. To complete the package, there are 7 ingredients found in the successful P3s that we have studied. This series offers ideas on how to make public-private partnerships work for your municipality.
Examples in Economic Development and Technology Acquisition
(Vol. 2, Issue 47)
This issue is part 2 of our 3-part series on P3s (public-private partnerships). Having covered the fundamentals of P3s in part 1 of this series, we turn our attention to some examples of actual projects. Over the years, we've had the opportunity to review several dozen. In this issue, we summarize the key elements of a number of these P3s. These examples are drawn from municipalities large and small; rural and urban. Included are 5 examples of projects in economic development and 3 more involving technology acquisition. Of particular interest to our readers from smaller communities is the example of bootstrapping economic development in a remote rural municipality. Of course, like any well-designed concept, it can be applied to municipalities of all sizes. Its inspiration came from an initiative in a major metropolitan suburb. This issue will enable you to examine some possibilities for your municipality, whatever its size or location.
Examples in Infrastructure, in Parks & Recreation, and in Special Projects
(Vol. 2, Issue 48)
This issue is part 3 of our 3-part series on P3s (public-private partnerships). In it, we continue our look at the key elements of P3s by examining 9 additional examples. As in the previous issue, examples are drawn from municipalities large and small, rural and urban. Included are 3 examples of projects in infrastructure, 4 more involving parks and recreation, and 2 special projects developing a civic-center complex and retaining a military base. Our purpose in presenting these examples of successful P3s is to give you some ideas of what can be accomplished with these versatile partnerships. All of these P3s plus other successful examples that we have studied have 3 key elements in common. This issue describes those key elements. And, it will enable you to examine more possibilities for your municipality.