Category Archives: Local Government

Customer Service and 311/CRM Technology in Local Governments: Lessons on Connecting with Citizens

Source: Cory Fleming (ed.), ICMA, October 2008

This final report of ICMA’s National Study of 311 and Customer Service Technology serves as a valuable reference manual for local governments considering the implementation of a centralized customer service system.
Related story:
Helping Residents Help Themselves
Source: Annie Gentile, American City and County, April 2008

Vallejo’s Fiscal Freefall

Source: By ANYA SOSTEK, Governing, November 2008

Are other cities with budget trouble on the verge of asking the courts for relief?

……. A September report from the National League of Cities points to precarious fiscal conditions in cities across the nation, due to falling revenues from property, sales and income taxes and rising costs from inflation, energy, infrastructure, salaries, health care and pensions. “Vallejo is significant in the sense that the reasons they are doing it are factors that are going to be in place in cities across the country,” says Chris Hoene, director of policy and research for the National League of Cities. “You can see the Vallejo situation as something that cities across the country watch as a way to bring costs under control.”

Attempted Merger

Source: By JOSH GOODMAN, Governing, November 2008

States are pushing localities to consolidate — and localities are pushing back.

…… The common thread is that state officials in many places see local government as bloated and fractured. The result is a tense debate between states and localities over just what local government should look like.

The Winter Commission Report Revisited

Source: Supplement, Public Administration Review, Vol. 68 no. S1, December 2008
(subscription required)

From the introduction:
The featured authors cast considerable light on developments since the release of the National Commission on the State and Local Public Service’s report “Hard Truths/Tough Choices: An Agenda for State and Local Reform.” They note which of the various recommendations embedded in the report have taken root and which have not. They address the implications of Katrina and other new developments that the commission did not anticipate when we drafted our report. In sum, they provide a knowledge base that, in the spirit of the original commission, can help inform those committed to a new reform agenda.
Articles include:
State and Local Governance Fifteen Years Later: Enduring and New Challenges – Frank J. Thompson
Executive Orders and Administrative Control – Margaret R. Ferguson, Cynthia J. Bowling
Continuity and Change in Executive Leadership: Insights from the Perspectives of State Administrators – Brendan F. Burke, Chung-Lae Cho, Deil S. Wright
Strengthening Local Government Leadership and Performance: Reexamining and Updating the Winter Commission Goals – James H. Svara
Personnel Reform in the States: A Look at Progress Fifteen Years after the Winter Commission – Lloyd G. Nigro, J. Edward Kellough
State and Local Government Procurement and the Winter Commission – Matthew Potoski
From Measurement to Management: Breaking through the Barriers to State and Local Performance – Mary Bryna Sanger
The Evolution and Continuing Challenges of E-Governance – Sharon S. Dawes
Electronic Funds and Benefits Transfers, E-Government, and the Winter Commission – Maureen A. Pirog, Craig L. Johnson
State and Local Fiscal Sustainability: The Challenges – Jeffrey I. Chapman
The Challenge of Strengthening Nonprofits and Civil Society – Steven Rathgeb Smith
Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth: Challenges in Managing Philanthropic Support for Public Services – Charles Brecher, Oliver Wise
Learning from the States? Federalism and National Health Policy – Carol S. Weissert, Daniel Scheller
Federalism Revised: The Promise and Challenge of the No Child Left Behind Act -Kenneth K. Wong
Mega-Disasters and Federalism – Marc Landy

Performance Reporting: An Emerging Imperative with Unintended Consequences?

Source: Janet M. Kelly, State and Local Government Review, Vol. 40 no. 2, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In November 2006, the Board of Trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation confirmed that the Governmental Accounting Standards Board had the jurisdictional authority to require Service Efforts and Accomplishments reporting in its financial accounting and reporting standard-setting activities for state and local governments. Reaction from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and other organizations representing states and local governments was swift and negative. These organizations championed performance measurement as a management tool but resisted the board’s agenda to enhance accountability through performance reporting. Understanding this contradiction is aided by an exploration of how institutionalized performance reporting can redefine accountability, sometimes to the detriment of achieving the service objectives it is intended to advance.

California Governor Signs into Law New Whistleblower Protections for City and County Employees

Source: Whistleblower Law Blog, Employment Law Group, October 3, 2008

On September 26, 2008, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a new whistleblower protection bill to extend whistleblower protections to city and county employees who report waste, fraud and abuse of government funds. The new law authorizes cities and counties to create and maintain whistleblower hotlines to receive calls from employees who have information regarding possible violations of state, federal or local statutes, rules or regulations. The new law also requires city and county auditors and controllers to maintain the confidentiality of a whistleblower’s identity throughout the investigation process. To read the bill, click here.

Examining Local Government Service Delivery Arrangements Over Time

Source: Scott Lamothe, Meeyoung Lamothe, Richard C. Feiock, Urban Affairs Review, Vol. 44 No. 1, September 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
While scholars of local service delivery arrangements are fully aware the process is dynamic, research has tended to take the form of cross-sectional studies that are inherently static in nature. In this article, the authors model the determinants of production mode accounting for past delivery decisions. They find, not surprisingly, that there are strong inertial effects; previous delivery mode is a strong predictor of the current service delivery arrangement. More interestingly, the impact of the transaction cost nature of services on production choice is conditioned on past decisions, such as the extent of contracting and the type of vendors used. There is also evidence that contract management capacity and the competitiveness of the contracting environment are influential.

Service Challenges and Governance Issues Confronting American Counties in the 21st Century: An Overview

Service Challenges and Governance Issues Confronting American Counties in the 21st Century: An Overview
Source: J. Edwin Benton, Jacqueline Byers, Beverly A. Cigler, Kenneth A. Klase, Donald C. Menzel, Tanis J. Salant, Gregory Streib, James H. Svara, and William L. Waugh Jr., State and Local Government Review, Vol. 40 no. 1, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
More than ever, American counties are faced with service challenges and governance issues that have implications for their effectiveness as units of government. The authors of this essay offer insight into these matters based on their extensive interactions with county elected officials and practitioners and state and regional associations of counties.

Proposed Changes To Americans With Disabilities Act Could Affect Local Governments

Source: American City and County, August 19, 2008

Some proposed changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) aimed directly at state and local governments and could amend the definitions of discrimination in the use of government services and facilities. However, according to the National Association of Counties (NACo), a Safe Harbor Provision would exempt public entities that had previously brought existing facilities into compliance with early ADA standards from having to further modify those facilities to comply with small changes to the standards.