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FY12 Budget: Recommendations of the Organizational Reform Commission June 2, 2011

I want to thank the members of the Organizational Reform Commission (ORC) for their work over the past year.  I believe their efforts to identify ways in which the County can function differently will put us on a more sustainable path and will have a lasting impact on the way we operate.   


This Council has embraced many of the ORC's recommendations, with respect to arbitration, Maintenance of Effort, and liquor control.  One recommendation that we have embraced fully - moving the County's technology systems to "cloud computing" - will save $31 million.  Some recommendations the Council did not accept totally, but accepted in part in order to still achieve some savings.  There are certainly issues where the Council disagreed with the ORC - in considering 28 recommendations there were bound to be.  But even in areas where the Council arrived at a different point of view, the matters still received robust debate and honest consideration.  That in itself is valuable.  I believe their work was a critical part of our budget decisionmaking and I am most grateful for having had the benefit of it. 

Report of the Organizational Reform Commission March 8, 2011

Organizational Reform Commission

The Montgomery County Organizational Reform Commission (ORC) released their final report on January 31.  The Commission was created in July 2010, following the passage of legislation that I sponsored.  My goal was to make sure that we look at all the ways we can save money and provide services more efficiently, worthy goals any time, but particularly important when we are struggling with the aftermath of the Great Recession.  


The Commission took its responsibility very seriously and worked very hard, holding almost fifty different meetings with various officials and stakeholders from County Government and other agencies.  Their work culminated in twenty-eight recommendations and strategies to identify efficiencies and eliminate duplicative services, including blending the delivery of housing related services and restructuring the County's IT systems, for example.  I encourage you to take a look at the report here.


The County Executive recently released his response to the ORC's final report, which you can read here.  He supports nine of the 28 recommendations, supports others with conditions, and some he opposes.   


Next, the Council will hold committee worksessions to review the recommendations and the Executive's responses, and Council staff will prepare legislation when it is necessary to implement changes.  The Committees will vote on each recommendation and submit their recommendations to the full Council for its consideration later this spring.

September Update on the Organizational Reform Commission
September 8, 2010

The eight member volunteer citizen Commission, jointly appointed by the County Council and the County Executive has had several fact finding meetings in August and September. It is gathering information in order to meet the charge of submitting "a status report of its progress to the Council and the Executive outlining its progress to date and its work plan through January 31, 2011."

The Commission, co-chaired by Vernon Ricks and Richard Wegman, has received presentations from the Executive Branch, represented by the Chief Executive Officer, and the Office of Management and Budget. The County Council Staff Director and the Council's Office of Legislative Oversight also discussed County budgetary structure issues.

Subsequently, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Montgomery College, and Montgomery County Public Schools were invited to address a series of questions related to budgetary and organizational issues.

Meetings are scheduled with county stake holders from a broad spectrum from employee unions to civic groups, major non-profit providers, and agencies. They have already met through August and into September, and gathered an impressive portfolio of documents to read and issues to ponder.

I thank them for their service to date and look forward with anticipation to their initial recommendations.

August Update on the Organizational Reform Commission
August 5, 2010

On July 20, the County Council named eight people to the new Montgomery Organizational Reform Commission that I sponsored and the Council supported. The Commission, composed of County residents who are experienced in government, business or non-profit service delivery, will help guide the County toward creating efficient models of providing services and operations and will make recommendations for potential reorganization or consolidation of functions performed by County government and County-funded agencies.

The Council and County Executive each designated four members to serve on the commission and each recommended one member as co-chair.  The Council nominees to the commission were Scott Fosler of Chevy Chase, who has served as President of the National Academy of Public Administration; Daniel Hoffman of Rockville, who for the past nine years has experience managing organization transformation and process analysis efforts as a senior associate for PricewaterhouseCoopers' Washington Federal Practice; Vernon H. Ricks, Jr., of Potomac, a former Takoma Park City Councilmember who has served on the boards of directors of Maryland Municipal League and the National League of Cities; and Len Simon of Bethesda, the President of the Edgemoor Citizens Association and an employee of the Washington-based firm Simon and Company that works with local governments.
County Executive Leggett's nominees to the commission were M. Christina Echavarren of Bethesda, an executive with a non-profit organization who is experienced in modernizing budget and accounting processes; Joan Fidler of Bethesda, the president of the Montgomery County Taxpayers League; Susan Heltemes of Silver Spring, who has led and managed teams for nationally recognized research firm Westat; and Richard Wegman of Bethesda, the former chief counsel and staff director of the U.S. Senate's Committee on Governmental Affairs.  Mr. Ricks and Mr. Wegman were named co-chairs of the Commission.
The Commission must solicit suggestions for potential reorganization or consolidation of functions performed by County government and County-funded agencies by meeting with elected officials; County residents; business and community leaders; County and agency employees; bargaining unit representatives; and other stakeholders.  The Commission will then draft and adopt written criteria to evaluate which suggestions merit further consideration by the Commission. The criteria must include a minimum level of potential cost savings (for example, $1 million per year); a standard for ease of implementation; and a measure of acceptable service level impact.
Commissioners met for the first time as a body on Wednesday July 28, 2010 and decided to meet on Monday's from 4:00-6:00 pm in August and return to Wednesdays in September.  The Commission must submit a status report of its progress and a work plan to the Council and the Executive no later than Sept. 30. It final report is due by Jan. 31. The report must contain the Commission's recommendations to reorganize or consolidate functions performed by County government or County-funded agencies.
For more information or questions please contact the Commission at:
July Update on the Organizational Reform Commission
July 8, 2010

The County Council, the County Executive, and the public all agree that more can be done to streamline government services and operate more efficiently.  Yet progress has been slow, in part because of the stalemate that occurs among the stakeholders --- who wants to lose their job?  That is why, working with the County Executive, we jointly proposed a Commission that would focus on reorganizing county government.  And the Council agreed.

The Commission's specific charge is to focus on improvements where we would get the greatest bang for our buck taking into account the impact on the quality of service delivery, and to report to the Council prior to the time of next year's budget deliberations.  The Commission's recommendations will be voted upon, not sit on some shelf.

Now we are in the final stages of picking our 8 member Commission, 4 picked by the Council and 4 by the County Executive.  The Council President, the Chair of the Management and Fiscal Policy Committee, Councilmember Trachtenberg, and myself conducted the interviews.  And, as is so often the case, we were impressed with the talents of the people who applied .... quite a few of whom are from District 1.  We expect to finalize the membership on the Commission next week and then it is off to work for them.

Montgomery County Organizational Reform Commission
May 27, 2010

We owe it to our citizens, particularly in these challenging times, to make sure that we are providing county services in the most efficient manner possible.  And there is little doubt in my mind that there are ways we could streamline our bureaucracy and eliminate duplication.

And we made progress towards that goal this year, but we have miles to go.  Part of the problem is that if we leave it to the "stakeholders" to work it out, it often results in gridlock.  Everyone fights for their own job, which is understandable.  But, understandable as it is, we can not let it rest there. 
That is why I went to the County Executive and proposed a joint Commission that would take this out of the hands of the stakeholders.  Impartial, smart citizens of our county would hear from the stakeholders, the County Executive's staff, our council staff, and you, the residents, on ways we can improve the delivery of services.  Importantly, I proposed that the work of this Commission not sit on some shelf somewhere, but that the recommendations actually get voted upon by the Council.  The County Executive agreed, and I introduced a resolution creating the Commission supported by Councilmembers Trachtenberg, Leventhal, and Navarro.  Last week, the full Council approved the resolution creating a Montgomery County Organizational Reform Commission.
The Council and the County Executive will appoint 4 members each not later than June 30, 2010. Commissioners must be County residents. We are seeking people with experience in government, business or non-profit service delivery. Additionally, those who have expertise in creating efficient models of providing services and operations will be of great value.
The work of the Commission will be completed in time for the Council to act upon it before it votes on the budget next year.  As the County Executive stated, "We cannot go back to 'business as usual' and still address the structural budget gaps the County faces".
Reorganizing Our County Government May 7, 2010

Over the course of the past year and longer, I have expressed frustration over the lack of progress in reorganizing our county government and related agencies to provide better, more efficient services.

There are areas of redundancy - including the delivery of recreation services, public safety, procurement, and after school activity programming, to name a few.
Action on these issues is even more imperative in the midst of a fiscal crisis. 
In order to address the lack of movement in this area, I met with the County Executive to explore a way forward that seeks to address the institutional barriers that stand in the way of progress.
We agree that the approach of a Montgomery County Organizational Reform Commission made up of county citizens not affiliated with county government gives us our best chance for meaningful reform.

The Commission would be appointed jointly by the Council and the Executive and charged to prepare findings to be forwarded to the County Executive and the Council by January 31, 2011. 
These recommendations would not "sit on the shelf."  Under the terms of the resolution the County Executive would forward to the Council those recommendations he supports. The Council would be able to support and/or add any that it prefers. Public hearings would be held on all of the recommendations and a vote up or down would be required.

A draft resolution has been prepared and will be introduced on Tuesday, May 11.

Montgomery County Council, 100 Maryland Ave, Rockville MD 20850
Phone: (240) 777-7900 (voice) • (240) 777-7888 (fax) • (MD Relay) Dial 711 or 800-201-7165
Contact the County Council and Legislative Branch Offices