Strategic Planning for Public Entities


Citizens who serve on a governmental board generally have a desire to serve the public interest. In small communities, some agree to serve due to realization that there are a lack of volunteers agreeing to do so, and a vast amount of work to be done. These volunteers rarely have an over abundance of additional time to serve on these boards.  This makes it imperative that the time spent be as productive as possible.  How can this be accomplished?  Your entity needs a Strategic Plan!  It will help you have unity prioritizing the challenges the board will be handling. It will also help set the course for new board members who fill vacating positions. This will save time and help give confidence to new board members, as well as give a clear way to measure the progress of a government.

How to get started?  See below taken from Municipal Research and Services Center website. (link is below)

Review or adopt a mission statement, develop a vision for the future of the county or city, adopt goals, objectives, and measureable deliverables. The end result is the development of a 10-20 year strategic plan, subject to periodic review and updating. The key elements are:

  1. Strengths and Weaknesses: Review the strengths and weaknesses of the jurisdiction, and develop a preliminary understanding as to where the county or city should concentrate efforts to address its deficiencies and build upon its strengths. This presentation should be delivered by the chief administrative officer of the jurisdiction; the chair of the board of county commissioners or the mayor.
  2. Stakeholder Input: Receive a summary of the input from the citizenry or major stakeholders regarding their perceptions relating to the future directions of the county or city. This will validate the importance of the role of these groups as well as reinforce the connection between the elected officials and their constituencies.
  3. Mission Statement: Most counties and larger cities have a mission statement that reads something like “it is the mission of XYZ County to provide a safe and secure environment, encourage balanced economic growth, protect the environment, and nurture the provision of responsive services so as to ensure a high quality of life for its citizenry,” or a variation thereof. The mission statement outlines and defines the aspirations of the jurisdiction in the context of its overall responsibilities. It is basically a statement of priorities for addressing the needs of its constituents. The mission statement sets the frame of reference for establishing the county or city’s vision for the future as well as its goals and objectives. While the mission statement can be altered over time, it is in fact the jurisdiction’s statement of purpose.
  4. Vision: A major strategic planning element of a retreat is to define a vision for the future. That vision normally reflects the strengths and weaknesses of the county or city, changing conditions, and evolving constituent/stakeholder expectations. Examples of vision elements might include, the desire for a more economically diverse population; reduced congestion and single occupant vehicle usage; increased commercial and economic activity; increased financial sustainability, and encouragement of more healthy lifestyles. The vision basically defines the character of the jurisdiction that the elected officials and its stakeholders feel should be achieved at some point in the future. Each of those elements feed back to the mission statement and reflects the consensus of the elected officials regarding their jurisdiction’s future.
  5. Goals: For each element of the vision, the elected officials should develop specific goals. If, for example, the vision is to encourage a more economically diverse population, addressing the needs of those with a more moderate incomes, then a number of specific goals can be defined. Those goals might include incentives for lower cost housing, encouragement of increased lower wage employment opportunities, increased availability of social services, etc. Each of these goals taken separately contribute to achieving a specific element of the vision. Individually they may not encourage the desired outcome, but collectively they can, if achieved, bring about the end result.
  6. Objectives: The objectives are those elements that bring about achievement of the goal. If for instance the goal is to encourage an increased supply of affordable housing, the objective might be achieved by zoning changes that allow higher level multi-family housing in exchange for a given percentage of affordable housing units, or smaller lot residential developments to accommodate smaller  and more affordable homes, zoning for mobile home parks, or even taxation concessions.

If you have questions or want help getting started, please feel free to give me a call.

Charting Your Future Part 2: Conducting a Strategic Planning Retreat


Perspectives on Strategic Planning in the Public Sector

Making Strategic Planning Work