Originally published January 19, 2011–Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Wednesday announced a new initiative to address major components of her administration’s vision for Cook County government.
The new performance based management and budgeting ordinance, which was introduced today by the Cook County Board of Commissioners, aims to add transparency, accountability and fiscally responsible practices to the budget process that all county elected officials, agencies, bureaus and departments must complete each year.
“We often hear talk about responsible spending and cutting waste, but what are needed are practices that reinforce these principles. The planning process for future county budgets must include meaningful, objective performance measures. I’m taking the lead in this process to ensure that the county is accountable for the tax dollars that fund our budget and the functions we must provide for the public,” said Preckwinkle.
The new initiative requires that each county agency and department prepare a quarterly report in which it defines its mission and establishes measurable goals for achieving desirable results for those who benefit from its services, foremost the taxpayers who fund those services.
Preckwinkle will be chairing the performance management review sessions that are outlined in the initiative. She and her staff will also take an active role in assisting each agency and department in mapping out these new performance management documents.
Preckwinkle said this initiative centralizes the disparate operations of the county.
“Grants, fees, staffing levels, benefits, salaries and capital projects — these are important items that relate to our county’s financial situation, both on the revenue and expenditure sides of the budget equation. We’re setting up a new system in which these items will be reviewed on a regular basis so they can be assessed, monitored and incorporated into the budget,” she said.
“You cannot manage without measuring. This performance management effort is about improving services. Businesses and municipalities have implemented similar programs and have had great success with improving services to customers and residents.”
For many years, transfers and other personnel practices have allowed budgets to spiral upward well after the annual budget is approved by the Cook County Board of Commissioners. This ordinance seeks to end these practices.
“I encourage you to read through this ordinance. These are the steps we need to take to professionalize Cook County, to ensure that we budget in the same way that the people of Cook County must balance their checkbooks each month. Mission drift is a challenge in Cook County. The bottom line is these new rules connect activities across the county to outcomes that will limit spending and improve services for the people of Cook County,” Preckwinkle said.