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King County, Wa. Mandates Citizen Involvement

On July 7, 2008, the King County Council passed the Performance and Accountability Act, incorporating recommendations of the work group convened by the County Auditor. The Act mandates strategic plans by all county agencies linked to a countywide strategic plan and updated at least every five years, annual business plans by all agencies, and two annual public performance reports: “King County Scorecard” and “The State of King County.” The reports will combine information from citizen opinions, community outcome indicators, and service performance measures. The Act also mandates the County to involve the public in review of county priorities, community indicators, and the countywide strategic plan. By the end of 2008, a new Executive Office of Strategic Planning and Management was established by an ordinance passed in response to the Act. The office reports directly to the County Executive to assure high-level attention to implementing the Act. The Auditor’s Office helped draft the Act, demonstrating one of many ways auditors can be involved in Effective Community Governance.

Collaborative Work Group Convened by the County Auditor Guided King County’s Performance Management Progress

The King County, Washington, Performance Management Work Group is convened and facilitated by the auditor’s office to enhance the performance management and measurement capabilities of King County government leaders. Originally the Performance Measurement Work Group (renamed in the Performance and Accountability Act, above), the group has been active since 2003.The Work Group has approximately 25 members from the Office of the County Auditor, executive departments, the judiciary, the County Council, and separately elected county officials such as the sheriff, the prosecutor, and the assessor. The group has increased government accountability through a consistent approach to strategic planning.

The Work Group has worked in an advisory capacity to help department managers improve goal alignment in their budgets and business plans.  After critiquing department business plans, Work Group members helped lay in place a standardized framework for improved performance management.  In 2004, the Work Group created Business Plan and Performance Measurement Guidelines for use in County department and agency budgeting and program planning. The Work Group guidelines assist department management in identifying measurable program goals and objectives, while clarifying linked elements of business plans and providing useful case examples.  In 2007, the guidelines became an official component of the County’s annual budget and business plan instructions issued by The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the county’s executive budget office.  The OMB actively consulted the Work Group while developing these instructions, ensuring their effectiveness for the seven departments under the County Executive.  As executive departments are expected to use the business plan instructions, the Work Group is on hand to ensure consistent, universal practices and methods among department managers. While the Performance and Accountability Act was a culmination of five years of Work Group efforts, the group’s job has not ended. The Act recognizes the Work Group’s role in continual improvement of managing for results in the county. While the new Executive Office of Strategic Planning and Management has given a stronger role to the County Executive for aligning strategic performance management efforts of most agencies, the Work Group will help keep non-executive agencies participating in performance management, and will also provide approaches to increase citizen participation in performance management processes.