Using Performance Data to Revolutionize the Management of Cook County Government, Part 1: An Introduction
The first in a series of 3 articles on how Cook County Government is embracing the idea of innovative leadership to provide fiscally responsible, improved government services.
The County’s “Set Targets, Achieve Results” (STAR) Performance Management program strives to measure, report and manage performance to promote Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s four goals: fiscal responsibility, innovative leadership, transparency and accountability, and improved services.
STAR began with an ordinance introduced by President Preckwinkle and passed unanimously by the Board of Commissioners. It requires every office to set goals, manage data, and meet regularly to make improvements. STAR is a partnership between the Board of Commissioners, County agencies, employees, and residents. All County offices and agencies report progress toward stated goals and work together to improve performance.
The STAR program was initiated in February of 2011, and the first public report was published in July 2011. The Cook County Performance Management Office continues to publish quarterly reports to show the progress of Cook County Government, to point out areas where there is room for improvement, and to invite residents to share ideas on how to run the County more effectively and efficiently. The efforts of each office within the County have been linked to countywide goals in the areas of public safety, healthcare, property and taxation, and economic development. The STAR program provides a forum for county agencies to work jointly to set priorities, identify opportunities, address problems, and measure performance transparently.
Through STAR, Cook County regularly reports performance data, creating a culture of transparency and accountability. During internal reviews with senior County leadership and the quarterly STAR reports, County agencies highlight both successes and areas for improvement. Residents and decision makers have access to critical operational data that help them hold their government accountable. In addition, performance data provides decision makers with valuable information that is integral in deciding how best to direct tax dollars. Quality performance data is important in understanding how budget decisions will impact operations and is critical in performance based budgeting.
Since its establishment, the STAR Performance Management program has increased visibility into the County’s operations and generated substantial returns through increased revenue, decreased costs and improved services. The STAR program provides County leaders with the tools and information they need to measure success and make key management decisions. STAR also helps Cook County to more effectively direct tax dollars to achieve results.