Commentary and information about public safety and security, intelligence and counterintelligence, open government and secrecy, and other issues in northern Idaho and eastern Washington.

Location: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States

Raised in Palouse, WA. Graduated from Washington State University. US Army (Counterintelligence). US Secret Service (Technical Security Division) in Fantasyland-on-the-Potomac and Los Angeles. Now living in north Idaho.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Strategic Planning: A Federal Model for Local Government

Might Kootenai County agencies and taxpayers benefit from a unified strategic planning process? There are 55 to 60 million good reasons suggesting we would.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) defines strategic planning as, "A systematic method used by an organization to anticipate and adapt to expected changes."

The FAQ prepared by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management gives a more detailed but easily readable answer to the question What is Strategic Planning?.

Federal agencies are required by law, the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, to prepare strategic plans, review them annually to determine which goals and objectives have and have not been met, and update the plans regularly. Section 2(a) of the law explains why Congress found it necessary to impose a strategic planning requirement on agencies. Section 2(b) explains what strict adherence to the law is intended to accomplish. Section 3 provides the structure the plans must follow. Section 4(b) describes how the annual performance plans must be prepared and submitted. Section 5 explains how managers will be held accountable.

To read a real-world strategic plan, see the Federal Bureau of Investigation Strategic Plan 2005-2009.

All right, strategic planning is a good idea for federal agencies, but how would it benefit local governments? Go back to the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 and read Section 2(b). Wherever you see the word "Federal," substitute "Kootenai County." That should answer the question.

Strategic planning gives government agencies a roadmap for moving forward systematically, cost-effectively, and efficiently. An absence of strategic planning results in unfocused shortsightedness, waste, and inefficiency.

Formalized strategic planning in Kootenai County would give our county's elected officials including the Board of County Commissioners and Sheriff an opportunity to demonstrate their competence as public administrators. Equally important, it would give voters one more tool to judge their performances objectively.

There are increasing demands for our tax dollars. We should expect our elected officials to use the tools at their disposal to spend those dollars wisely now and in the future.


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