Government Collaboration: The Solution to Municipal BankruptciesSeptember 23, 2013 | By Wayne O'Neill
It’s quite the trap to fall into—all based on assumptions that the economy and the needs of the community will remain the same, and when there is an abrupt, drastic change, there is hopelessness. There’s a lack of funding at a local level, budgets get cut and jobs are lost. With less people comes less mind power to bring about a positive change. The government continues to suffer without the right connections.
These government jobs aren’t hiring, but what if they were? People don’t trust them. They can’t manage their money, they’re quick to let people go, and why would someone think that they’d value their employees? Good, qualified people wouldn’t want to belong to an organization like this, and that often leaves them with lackluster employees. No one is winning here.
What’s Expected vs. Reality
People want their government to run well, like any business should. They want it, and the people running it, to show accountability for their actions. For them to collaborate with taxpayers and handle their money in such a manner that expenditures will provide value.
Let’s take a look at the organizational framework of the municipal government. Depending on how large the city is, a local government can be pretty complicated. There are smaller, specialization-focused subgroups that lie within, and they operate as individual silos. Completely separate from one another. Because they function fine on their own, elected officials haven’t considered the potential for improvement if the different sectors would collaborate.
While these sectors are working separately, opportunities go unnoticed. For example, the technology department could have a simple solution for a large organizational issue within the education department. Without allowing room for communication between separate sectors, they are unable to evaluate how they can create a connection that will result in a beneficial collaboration.
So Here’s the Bottom Line…
These municipalities have failed. The people don’t trust them. What they’ve been doing didn’t work and they need something new, but they have no budget. They need to wake up, start a chain reaction of collaboration between the sectors within their organization, and utilize strengths that each hold to improve upon the others.
When goals are achieved more effectively by utilizing partnerships, money is saved. This money can be reallocated to other areas of weakness that will, in turn, add value to the community. Collaboration results in cost savings, then is translated into stewardship into the community. Don’t just take it from me: there’s a wealth of information on strategic collaboration out there. Northern Ohio—they have it figured out. And they’ve got more effective emergency response, economic development, and case studies to prove it.