Santa Ana - The County of Orange ranked among the 13 best-managed counties in the nation in a study released today by Governing Magazine. The “county report card,” produced by Syracuse University, also revealed only one county in California with a better rating than Orange.
“I am extremely proud of this recognition,” said CEO Michael Schumacher. “It is an excellent reward for the hard work that’s been poured into improving County practices since the bankruptcy. It also reflects the priorities established by the Board of Supervisors, and it recognizes the cooperation and effort from County employees.”
“As a former educator, I recognize the value in bringing home a good report card,” said Cynthia P. Coad, Chair, Board of Supervisors. “It’s a remarkable achievement for the County to earn this prestigious report card rating after having experienced a bankruptcy, the shadow of which still looms in the $1 billion of remaining debt. The results of this study are a testament to the hard work since emerging from bankruptcy.”
The study reviewed and graded five management areas: financial management; capital management; human resources; managing for results; and information technology. Counties were then ranked on the average of these five grades. The County of Orange took top honors for its achievements in Information Technology. Praise was given to collaboration between departments, accessible data warehouse information and online customer services.
The lowest grade went to managing for results. Schumacher explained that an assortment of management tools had been developed since bankruptcy to improve County practices and to provide more information to the Board for planning and policy development purposes. “This area is one of the latest to be phased in,” said Schumacher. “It is an area we’re focusing on this year. If Governing comes back with another look next year, I think they’ll have much different comments.”
In the other areas, the County was praised in the following areas:
Financial Management “After reforms that followed bankruptcy, county’s investment status is ‘squeaky clean,’ highly visible, continually reviewed and very conservative.”
Capital Management “Long-term attention to road maintenance, dating back to late 1980s, leaves infrastructure in excellent shape.”
Human Resources “Merit system more flexible than many in California; market-based salary system; developing HR strategic plan; . . . extensive, successful, pay-for-performance plan.”
“Most people don’t realize what an important role county governments play in their daily lives – from collecting taxes and garbage to providing public health and economic development services,” said Dale Jones, Director of the Government Performance Project which performed the study. “That is why it is important for citizens to have a way to measure how well their counties run.”
The study will be the lead article in the February issue of Governing Magazine.
The Alan K. Campbell Institute is an interdisciplinary research organization dedicated to linking the worlds of scholarship and public affairs. This includes the study and analysis of areas such as public programs and actions, citizenship and participation, public management and public administration, and political ideas and political outcomes.
The entire report is available at http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/.