Cuyahoga County Transition Public Forum
On Thursday, July 8th, the Beck Center hosted one of many events intended to aid in the transition to and understanding of the new County Government structure to be implemented in 2011. Over the course of the evening, a small audience of about 25 attendees listened to presentations by and discussed the work of two “County Transition Workgroups.”
State Senator Mike Foley (District 14) presented for the first workgroup, County Government Collaboration. Senator Foley explained that this workgroup is charged with a final goal of facilitating cooperation with local governments and governing boards, i.e. school boards and metro parks.
The initial step in this process is to identify what services are already shared. Approximately 5 years ago there was a survey taken within the county that created an inventory of services, human resources, and physical property for each city. The workgroup suggest that this pre-existing information should be a starting point for sharing within the region. They recommend that the County Executive appoint someone to expedite the collaboration efforts based on the survey data.
Such collaborations should include revenue sharing for economic development- both inside and outside of the county, reinstituting the Mayor’s White Paper that addresses the refurbishing of obsolete properties, and working with the existing land bank. Other areas identified for potential cost savings included combining health care offerings, IT services, and standardization of labor contracts (i.e. lawyer fees). Legislation necessary to allow these and other shared services is being introduced.
The second half of the presentation was headed up by Bill Blausey of Eaton Corporation in his role as co-chair of the Information Technology workgroup. Mr. Blausey explained that the goal of the IT task force is to drive efficiencies through standardizing hardware and software and to provide effective services. Based on their initial analysis of the wide range of technological systems that exist across the county, the team recommends a detailed, intensive action plan.
Similar to the County Government Collaboration’s workgroup, the first step will be to create inventory of the existing systems. Through analysis of this inventory, the workgroup must develop a list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). This more detailed description will then be used to prioritize opportunities made apparent through this comparison.
Already it is clear that the current systems are decentralized and inconsistent between municipalities and will need a cohesive plan in order to function as truly countywide government. The group emphasized that because IT information is kept in a wide variety of ways, basic processes such as budgets and time keeping will need to be integrated in order to be effective.
Other recommendations included, purchasing by volume for cost savings, the creation of a common IT support mechanism, the development of a disaster recovery plan and a method of committee based oversight outside of IT itself. As the county government moves forward, replacement of equipment within a normal life span with consistent brands will be crucial.
An immediate preventative measure that can be implemented to avoid further technological complexities on a countywide level should be to stop continued investment, such as upgrades, in multiple systems.
The County Charter Transition Team is sponsoring additional public forums. The calendar of events is listed on the web site www.charter.cuyahogacounty.us or contact the Community Outreach Department at (216) 443-3258 for more information.