Catawba County Excels in Organizational Effectiveness

By O'Brien, Robin | Policy & Practice, June 2007 | Go to article overview

Catawba County Excels in Organizational Effectiveness


O'Brien, Robin, Policy & Practice


In 2003, social service and mental health senior managers in Catawba County, N.C., faced a decision. Mental health reform was sweeping across the state; and beginning in July 2004, Catawba's public mental health agency would limit itself to determining eligibility. In the absence of another solution, the majority of the county's children and families would need to find support from among a hodgepodge of private agencies.

DSS' managers were concerned for the well-being of their clients. According to their Master Client Information System, up to 70 percent of families involved with child protection required some combination of substance abuse and mental health services. Research suggested that a privatized system would serve their clients poorly and frustrate efforts to coordinate services. Could DSS step into the breach?

Catawba County, population 151,000, is an hour away by car from Charlotte. Since 2000, Catawba County has experienced a severe economic downturn, including the loss of 14,000 jobs. As a result, DSS, an agency of 410 employees and a $186 million budget, has seen Medicaid cases rise 73 percent and food assistance cases rise 197 percent. The agency also supports some 240 foster care children.

These challenges notwithstanding, the agency has received 13 awards, among which is a joint award from the National Association of Counties and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for excellence in management and service provision. DSS senior managers trace their success to an agreement reached 11 years ago.

Inspired by Osborne and Gaebler's 1992 book, Reinventing Government, DSS Director Bobby Boyd and seven other Catawba County agency directors proposed that their boards and county commissioners judge the agencies on their client outcomes. If agencies consistently met or exceeded 90 percent of their outcome targets, the boards would guarantee stable funding and the right to reinvest cost savings realized by increased efficiency. The boards agreed, giving Boyd and his senior managers a mandate to maximize client outcomes and process efficiency.

Boyd and the management team set to work transforming the agency. First, they needed to improve their ability to gather, analyze, make decisions and "tell the agency story" based on data. The county provided basic IT support, but not the customized systems and analysis grounded in intimate knowledge of the agency they needed.

Boyd hired Rick Pilato, a former finance and management consultant, to put in place the data, analysis and business management infrastructure required. Pilato set out to build a team of business analysts and programmers who understood the agency's programs and delivered powerful, flexible and easy-to-use IT solutions; conducted internal audits to ensure programmatic adherence and efficient use of resources; mapped agency processes; and with staff and supervisors made processes more responsive and more efficient. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Catawba County Excels in Organizational Effectiveness
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.