Organizational Alignment with Logic Models
Mucha, Michael J., Government Finance Review
Marathon County, Wisconsin
Using a carefully thought-out implementation schedule and focusing on change management and training, Marathon County changed the focus of managers and elected officials to outcomes rather than outputs.
Marathon County, Wisconsin, continuously evaluates its programs and services in light of its goal: creating a learning organization that promotes improved quality of services as well as increased service delivery efficiency The performance management system the county uses focuses on two major components, logic models and outcome measurement reports. In addition, the county has developed a mission, vision, and set of core values that all county activities must reflect, which helps it focus on desired outcomes.
ABOUT MARATHON COUNTY
Located in north central Wisconsin, Marathon County is geographically the largest county in Wisconsin, with a population of about 134,000. The county's economy, historically centered on its abundant timber resources, has gradually diversified, and now Marathon County is home to sizable manufacturing and agriculture industries as well. The county employs 776 full-time-equivalent employees in 23 departments, and it also encompasses discretely presented components units (DPCU) such as the airport and health-care center, which make up the overall financial structure of the county. The county's governing body, the Board of Supervisors, is made up of 38 members, each elected to a two-year term. However, each DPCU has its own board in addition to being under the control of the county's Board of Supervisors, and these boards must approve each DPCU's budget.The Board of Supervisors, along with a county administrator, oversees the county's $114 million budget. The county has a complicated management structure that includes an appointed county administrator who oversees some departments, department heads who are elected, department heads who are appointed by that department's board of directors, and one elected department head who is actually an employee of the state.
GETTING STARTED WITH OUTCOME MEASUREMENT
The county did not start focusing on outcomes, measurement, and improvement all at once. Rather, it developed its performance management system, called outcome measurement, over the past few years.The effort began in 2003, and through most of 2004, the county's outcome measurement team, along with all other county departments, received training on developing outcomes, identifying indicators, and using data measurement tools. In addition, county departments were introduced to the idea of logic models, a systematic and visual way of showing the relationship between inputs (resources), outputs (activities), and outcomes (results).
In 2006, the county began collecting data for many county programs and services, which it used to establish baselines. Beginning in 2007, these baselines were incorporated into the budget document and used to measure the success of programs and services. The budget document uses the logic model format to easily explain the relationship between inputs and outcomes for each program.
Marathon County's complex management structure presented a challenge similar to that faced by other complex jurisdictions looking at performance management. The key to implementing any performance management system, however, is to make sure the organization is willing to accept it. That means change management and training are essential. Performance management is an evolving process, and for Marathon County, the changes were implemented in an organized process over a number of years, with improvements in later years building upon initial successes.
Ultimately, it is people who make the system work. The county's performance management effort relies on having a knowledgeable staff that actively promotes the focus on outcomes. Marathon County identified this as one of its core strategies, and it places an emphasis on training staff and developing the governance skills of elected officials.
OUTCOME MEASUREMENT IN MARATHON COUNTY
Performance management in Marathon County centers on its mission, vision, core values, and core strategies. The county identified actions to help it achieve each core strategy (see Exhibit 1).
Outcome team. The county established an outcome team to provide leadership for outcome measurement across the county The outcome team comprises members of the county's largest departments, representatives from other departments, and members of the finance office. County officials realized that team members would still have responsibilities in their home departments in addition to their important work with the outcome team, so they set resource expectations. The county requires team members to dedicate four hours per month to their outcome measurement responsibilities. Team members are expected to:
* continue education on the principles and benefits of outcome measurement.
* coordinate training and formulate goals.
* provide guidance and serve as a resource for other departments.
* create a problem-solving environment.
* create an infrastructure for collecting, tracking, and using data.
* provide feedback and support for improvements.
The outcome teams helped develop the county's standardized logic model and outcome performance report, both of which are used extensively in the budget process. These tools are also used to help promote transparency with the public by showing the relationship between inputs, outputs, and outcomes. In addition, they encourage improvement by providing the structure for evaluating program performance.
Logic models. Using logic models helps the county focus on providing services that directly relate to its core values, as well as helping define what is important and what is appropriate to measure. Each department's logic model is displayed in a diagram like this:
Inputs* Activities* Outputs* Initial Outcomes* Intermediate Outcomes* Long-Term Outcomes
Measurement reporting. The coun- ty's outcome measurement reporting format and process makes all county departments accountable for their results (see Exhibit 2). Reports not only show performance data and indicate when performance targets are achieved, but also indicate any lessons learned or potential areas for improvement. The county uses the report format to communicate, but the true value of reporting is that it allows departments to review their programs, determine what worked and what did not, and make changes to continue learning and improving.
With the 2008 budget, the county initiated an internal grant program designed to more closely tie expenditures to strategic objectives. County departments and other related service agencies could apply for a "grant" to create additional programs that would further the county's core strategies. As part of the application process, departments were required to establish measurable outcomes to monitor the effectiveness of the program. Nine departments requested grants, and all submissions were reviewed and judged by a review team comprising two county board members, the finance director, and the deputy county administrator. The review team recommended funding five grants from across the county totaling approximately $250,000 (see Exhibit 3).
Despite the county's small size, limited resources, and complex political and management structure, performance management has been a huge success. Using a carefully thought-out implementation schedule and focusing on change management and training, the county was able to change the focus of managers and elected officials to outcomes rather than outputs. In doing so, the county has established its leadership philosophy which provides an organizational alignment with the county's mission, vision, core values, strategy, structure, leadership, and culture.
Resources for Information
* See the county's Web site at co.marathon.wi.us.
* Contact Kristi Kordus, Marathon County finance director at 715-261-1172 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MICHAEL J. MUCHA is a senior consultant and analyst in the GFOA's Research and Consulting Center in Chicago, Illinois.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Organizational Alignment with Logic Models. Contributors: Mucha, Michael J. - Author. Magazine title: Government Finance Review. Volume: 24. Issue: 5 Publication date: October 2008. Page number: 51+. © 1999 Government Finance Officers Association. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.