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Citizen-driven Performance - Community Indicators Consortium

Real Stories SeriesPage 3Project HighlightsTruckee Meadows Tomorrow (TMT) was craftedout of an Economic Development Authorityof Western Nevada (EDAWN) committee inresponse to research showing quality of life as themajor reason businesses relocated to the region. TMTstarted as an “organization of organizations,” whosemembers helped spread the idea at the grassrootslevel that indicators could be used to measure theregion’s quality of life in relation to the impactsof growth. The original partnering organizationsincluded Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency,EDAWN, Washoe Medical Center (now Renown Health)and the Washoe Education Association.TMT has introduced citizen engagement programs,such as: Quality of Life Compacts that formalizecollaboration agreements between organizations tomobilize and concentrate resources to bring aboutsignificant change within one or more indicators;Adopt an Indicator, which promotes personalinvolvement, improvement and stewardship oneindicator at a time; and Caught in the Act, anopportunity for citizens to nominate others whopromote quality of life in their everyday lives.Washoe County was one of the first governmentalorganizations to use TMT indicators to advance thecounty’s mission and to measure staff performance.Katy Simon, Washoe County Manager, initiated acitizen Organizational Effectiveness Committee in1996 to develop and emphasize a comprehensive andconsistent approach to the evaluation of services. Asan early partner with TMT, Washoe County first usedthe indicators in environmental scans and strategicplanning. The Board of County Commissionersofficially adopted five indicators in 1998, pledgingimprovement actions as part of TMT’sAdopt an Indicator Program.How Washoe County integratesTMT’s community indicators:1. County commissioners use the indicators instrategic planning to establish strategic prioritiesimportant to citizens.2. Departments then use the indicators to identifythe purpose of their units in measurable andauditable terms—through outcomes achieved,rather than services provided.3. Departments set annual objectives and identify“metrics” to measure how they’ll meet theirobjectives—often the community’s indicators.4. Management sets annual performance targets—including benchmarks compared to prior years orother jurisdictions or agencies.5. Budgets are developed based upon achieving theobjectives.6. Managers monitor performance and adjust theallocation of resources.7. TMT uses the performance measures in trackingthe indicators and reporting quality of lifeimprovement and decline over time.In 2001, Washoe County implemented TMT’s firstcollaborative Quality of Life Compact to measurablyimprove the community’s natural resources—thefirst time county staff worked across departmentswhile focused on specified performance measures. In2004, Washoe County began integrating communityindicators into performance measurement—using theindicators as tools for budgeting, policy and decisionmakingto improve service delivery with ever-scarcerresources in a measurable way responsive to citizenpriorities.Real Story No.1WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 4Inside the Truckee MeadowsTo understand why residents cherish northwesternNevada, one must consider the region’s topographicalcharacteristics, lifestyle amenities, diverse culturesand traditions.Washoe County has been one of the fastestgrowing areas of the country. It includes the citiesof Reno and Sparks, several General ImprovementDistricts, such as Incline Village at Lake Tahoe, andthe unincorporated areas of the county.Real Story No.1Photo courtesy of Reno SparksConvention & Visitors AuthorityThis is the “Real Story” of how the TruckeeMeadows community engaged its citizens toidentify measurable indicators and act on thoseindicators to improve their quality of life. It’s alsothe story of how Washoe County saw the value ofcitizen-driven indicators, integrating the community’sindicators in measurable ways to improveperformance and service delivery, allocate resourcesand enhance accountability to citizen priorities.The region’s characteristics, history of TruckeeMeadows Tomorrow, commitment to citizenengagement, and the future of community qualityof life—as the community defines it—are essentialcomponents of this story. Its real value lies in itsability to inspire communities to replicate qualityof life indicators across the nation. The quality oflife model that Truckee Meadows Tomorrow haschampioned has been embraced by internationalorganizations, demonstrating that citizens throughoutthe world are adopting quality of life initiatives.Throughout this Real Story, Truckee MeadowsTomorrow documents the integration of thecommunity’s indicators into Washoe County’sperformance measurement, through specificexamples that link the indicators to quality of lifeoutcomes.Authors examined organizational history, qualityof life indicator instruments, data, Washoe County’sstrategic plan, budget reports, and performancemeasurement and management system status reports.Key Washoe County staff members, elected officials,strategists, plus TMT staff and volunteers wereinterviewed. The documents referenced are listed inthe Community Toolbox. The Real Story of a lasting,effective citizen-driven performance partnershipWashoe County covers almost 7,000 square mileswith urban/metropolitan and rural living set in thehigh desert at 4,500 feet with an average rainfallof only 7.5 inches. The Truckee River runs fromLake Tahoe, Calif., travels through the mountainsof Nevada and the cities of Reno and Sparks, andempties into Pyramid Lake, home to the Piute IndianTribe. The Truckee Meadows area is well known forits environmental beauty and mild climate with fourdistinct seasons.Approximately 425,000 people make their home inWashoe County, with the majority living in the urbancities. Reno is the county seat and the third-largestcity in Nevada behind Las Vegas and the adjoiningHenderson. Many newer residents were attractedto low taxes and jobs, but an estimated 5 millionothers visit the area each year, which is why Reno iscalled the “Biggest Little City in America.” Tourismhas shifted from gaming to the multitude of yearroundrecreational opportunities available in theSierra Mountain range, Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River,Pyramid Lake and the expansive Great Basin.Nevada’s Freeport laws (tax exemptions forgoods shipped through or warehoused in the state),abundant transportation options and warehousingcapacity make the area a major gateway toCalifornia and the Pacific Rim. Over the last decade,and with the advent of Indian gaming in California,northern Nevada has diversified away from gaming asthe backbone of the economy toward construction,trade and manufacturing. More recently, renewableenergy and technology-based entrepreneurship anddevelopment have spurred the economy.As a result of its mining heritage, Nevada is nostranger to the cycles of boom and bust. For the firsttime in more than a decade, gaming revenue, salesand property taxes have declined. Unemployment isnow significantly higher than the national averagedue to the slump in construction. Home foreclosurescontinue to drive housing prices to new lows.WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 5Real Story No.1Photo courtesy of Reno Sparks Convention &Visitors Authority and the City of Renoemerged from the data, documents and personalinterviews.It is the hope of Truckee Meadows Tomorrow thatlocal governments, elected officials and interestedcitizens in other jurisdictions can see how easy itis for agencies, organizations and communities toachieve real change.Community Indicators —The BeginningThe 1980s marked a population explosion acrossthe state of Nevada. By the end of the decade, localgovernments were under pressure to create thefirst Truckee Meadows Regional Plan, as required bythe 1989 Nevada State Legislature, to plan for the“physical development and orderly management ofgrowth for the region.” After much debate and publicinput, it was agreed that the plan would includeindicators to measure the region’s quality of life.At the same time, Truckee Meadows Tomorrow(TMT) was crafted out of an Economic DevelopmentAuthority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) committee inresponse to research showing quality of life as themajor reason businesses relocated to the region. TMTstarted as an “organization of organizations,” whosemembers helped spread the idea at the grassrootslevel that indicators could be used to measure theregion’s quality of life in relation to the impactsof growth. The original partnering organizationsincluded Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency,EDAWN, Washoe Medical Center (now Renown Health)and the Washoe Education Association.Thousands of citizens reviewed the original setof more than 300 indicators and measurements thatthe community would use to monitor its quality oflife. TMT’s original citizen engagement process,and the diverse perspectives it generated, is wellTABLE 11993 High Priority IndicatorsLand-use & development• Housing rental affordability• Weekly wage by industryNatural resources & conservation• Surface water quality• Ground water quality• Open space• Air qualityPublic facilities & services• Vehicle miles traveled• Road congestion• Pavement condition• Regional water demand• Drop-out rate• Scores on Terra Nova TestCommunity resources• Uniform Crime Index• Feeling of safety• Cost of healthcare• Government leadership, accessdocumented. 1 Many aspects of this process have beenreplicated in other communities over the last decade.Hundreds of presentations were made to a diversegroup of businesses, and civic, social, fraternaland professional organizations. Participants spent“funny money” on the indicators they consideredmost important to quality of life. This uniqueway of weighing citizen input allowed membersof the community to compress the original set ofindicators and measures. Then, a demographicallyvalid, community-wide survey was conducted, incooperation with a local newspaper survey, to ratethe importance of the indicators. Approximately4,000 citizens participated in the overall process toselect 66 measurable indicators that reflected qualityof life in the Truckee Meadows.TMT incorporated as a not-for-profit in 1993 andexpanded to include businesses, agencies, othernot-for-profits and individual members. In 1994,The community indicator process attractedthousands of citizens who appreciated thequalita tive certainty of where we were and thecollaborative potential to get where we want to go.Elisa Maser, former regional planning staff memberWASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 6the Regional Planning Governing Board adopted thecommunity’s 66 indicators as an appendix to the 1991Regional Plan, but the indicators were never usedby Regional Planning to track the pace of growthor understand the impacts on quality of life in theregion. Ultimately, the indicators were droppedfrom successive regional plan updates. Now, TMT isthe source of information for how quality of life ischanging in the Truckee Meadows.For that reason, TMT developed programs thatextended its reach beyond aiding governmentplanning to improving the entire community. Itinitiated its first community wellbeing report in1994 as the benchmark for periodically reportingimprovement or decline in the indicators, includingways the indicators could be used throughout thecommunity to guide change. This report, as recentlyas 2008, serves as a catalyst for quality of lifeimprovement work by businesses, nonprofits, funders,individuals and local governments.TMT has continued to use an extensive publicparticipation process in the review and update ofcommunity indicators. In 1999, TMT began a threephasereview, ballot and voting process with AppliedSurvey Research to determine community consensuson indicators. 2 Although 66 of the community’sindicators were being reported, almost 200 datameasures were being monitored. There was concernthat over-extending the organization’s effortswould be problematic in the future and would notcontribute to the community’s wellbeing. Extensivecommunity meetings and surveys were again utilizedto weigh the importance of the indicators to helpthe community improve itself, including how theindicators could be connected to policies over time.As a result of this process, in 2000, the community’sindicators were collapsed to 30 across six categoriesconsidered the most important to quality of life in theTruckee Meadows.Indicator Process EvolvesFor nearly a decade, growth imposed change onthe Truckee Meadows. Environmental scans revealedmajor changes in population density and composition.In 2005, TMT began an inclusive, 18-month indicatorreview and update. TMT invited participation fromK-16 students, seniors, individuals from ethnicallyand culturally diverse communities, media, personswith disabilities, members of faith communitiesand elected officials to ensure that the updatedReal Story No.1TABLE 2:New indicator categories2000 indicator categoriesEconomic vitalityNatural environmentEducationSocial environmentHealthPublic safety2007 new indicator categoriesArts & Cultural VitalityCivic EngagementEnrichmentInnovationindicators would remain significant (serve as anearly warning system), measurable (provide reliable,consistent data) and actionable (identify roomfor improvement). Four new indicator categoriesemerged as the community articulated its valuesand encouraged the protection and prioritization ofqualitative measures equal to quantitative.The indicator review and update process beganwith a CEO forum, attracting chief executive officersfrom for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.The group identified existing and potentially newindicators that were most relevant to their financialbottom line, employee satisfaction and stability,and strategic position. The event was hosted by JimMiller, president of Renown Health—formerly WashoeMedical Center—one of the first partner organizations.His personal invitation drew 25 of the community’smost recognizable business leaders.The TMT Quality of Life task force made every effortto ensure that the indicator review and updateprocess was representative of the entire community.Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Nev.The TMT indicator review and update processemployed an innovative strategy to solicit feedbackfrom at-risk children, ages 5-14, when TMT partneredwith Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Northern Nevada.TMT volunteers set up a quality of life booth at theorganization’s holiday party. “Bigs” and “Littles”(as the mentors and the children are affectionatelyknown) were provided with an assortment of holidayornaments, glue, Santa hats and ornaments. TheWashoe County Health Department donated pencilsshaped as clouds to represent air quality (naturalWASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 7construct a kayak park, the only recreational andsporting venue of its kind west of the Colorado RockyMountains. The installation is widely attributedwith changing the community’s relationship withthe Truckee River. The result: four new quality oflife categories and three new indicators for thecommunity’s consideration.Photo courtesy of Washoe County Library Systemenvironment), fruits and vegetables (health andwellness), etc. Bigs and Littles decorated their hatsusing ornaments that represented things that definedquality of life to each of them. To ensure that datacollection was statistically replicable, the numbersof each ornament were counted prior to the exerciseand again at the conclusion. Bigs received instructionabout the exercise and agreed not to influence thechildren’s responses; however, they were encouragedto answer questions, be positive and most important,reinforce that there was no right or wrong answer.Ornament icons included a church, representingspirituality and communities of faith (enrichment);doves and cardinals, representing wildlife (openspace, natural environment); houses, representing,for many, the American dream to live in a home(economic wellbeing and land use and infrastructure).These are only a few examples of the thoughtfulapproach to match ornaments to TMT indicators. Theresult was a valid method to solicit feedback from thecommunity’s youngest residents. Feedback from theBigs and Littles was weighted equally with all othersurvey contributors, giving at-risk children the samevoice and vote as any other stakeholder. The successof the exercise was one of the most laudable for TMT,and may serve as a model for other communities thatstrive for an inclusive process.Following the collection of indicator review datafrom diverse populations, TMT hosted a series ofcommunity forums to facilitate citizen engagementand to arrive at a final set of indicators and qualityof life categories. Surprises emerged. The entirestaff of the Washoe County Health Department votedto elevate arts and culture to its own category. Atthe forum hosted by the Sparks Police Department,citizens vigorously supported enrichment indicators.The city of Reno hosted numerous forums at whichthe community vote underscored the value andimportance of innovation. The vote was interpretedas stamp of approval for the city’s decision toReal Story No.1Photo courtesy of City of SparksAt the conclusion of the 18-month collectionprocess, TMT prepared to announce the results inthe region’s daily newspaper, as had been donetraditionally for more than a decade. Unfortunately,the newspaper experienced financial pressures,and the publisher made the painful decision toend distribution of the TMT community wellbeingreport. TMT sought another media partner. TheNorthern Nevada Business Weekly expressed interestand provided essential linkages to the businesscommunity. The new relationship also createdopportunities to promote Accentuate the Positive,the community biennial event that recognizesindividuals and organizations that measurablyadvance quality of life. The business weekly’s supportof TMT encouraged the broadcast community to getinvolved. KRNV, the NBC affiliate, offered publicservice announcements and sponsored a communityawareness campaign. KOH radio interviewed TMTboard members throughout the year to encouragecommunity awareness and adoption of indicators.TMT has introduced citizen engagement programs,such as: Quality of Life Compacts that formalizecollaboration agreements between organizations tomobilize and concentrate resources to bring aboutsignificant change within one or more indicators;Adopt an Indicator, which promotes personalinvolvement, improvement and stewardship oneindicator at a time; and Caught in the Act, anopportunity for citizens to nominate others whopromote quality of life in their everyday lives.WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 8The program has received significant attention fromthe media and elected officials. (More informationabout TMT programs is provided in the CommunityToolbox, page 13.)TMT’s Quality of Life Indicators TodayArts and Cultural Vitality1. Expression of culture through the arts2. Participation in the arts & cultural activitiesCivic Engagement3. Voter turnout4. Effective government engagement5. Civility & neighborhood pride6. Emergency preparednessEconomic Wellbeing7. Individual & family economic wellbeing8. Economic vitality9. Workforce development10 EntrepreneurshipEducation and Lifelong Learning11. Educational infrastructure to meet community needs12. Educational success13. Community-wide involvement in education14. Literate communityEnrichment15. Recreation16. Philanthropy and volunteerism17. Access to faith communities and spiritual wellbeingHealth & Wellness18. Access to healthcare19. Wellness and preventative healthcare20. Mental health and social wellbeingInnovation21. Renewable energy22. Technology infrastructure and engagement23. Transformative community initiativesLand use & infrastructure24. Affordable housing25. Land use balance and sensitivity26. Mobility and convenience27. Development that encourages healthy lifestyles andneighborhood livabilityNatural Environment28. Air quality29. Clean and available water30. Open space access and connectivityPublic Wellbeing31. Perception of safety32. Secure families33. Community responsiveness to its most vulnerablepopulationsReal Story No.1Quality of Life Partnership:Government Performance Measuresand the IndicatorsWashoe County was one of the first governmentalorganizations to use TMT indicators to advance thecounty’s mission and to measure staff performance.Katy Simon, Washoe County Manager, initiated a citizenOrganizational Effectiveness Committee in 1996 todevelop and emphasize a comprehensive and consistentapproach to the evaluation of services because in herwords, “To be perceived as relevant to our citizens, wemust perform the work that they value. Collectively,we achieve essential community quality of life whengovernment and citizenry work together.”As an early partner with TMT, Washoe County firstused the indicators in environmental scans and strategicplanning. 3 The Board of County Commissioners officiallyadopted five indicators in 1998, pledging improvementactions as part of TMT’s Adopt an Indicator Program.In 2001, Washoe County implemented TMT’s firstcollaborative Quality of Life Compact to measurablyimprove the community’s natural resources—the firsttime county staff worked across departments whilefocused on specified performance measures. (Read moreabout the results below.)In 2004, Washoe County began integratingcommunity indicators into performancemeasurement—using the indicators as tools forbudgeting, policy and decision-making to improveservice delivery with ever-scarcer resources in ameasurable way responsive to citizen priorities.According to John Sherman, Director of Finance,“Washoe County incorporates base budgeting andstrategic planning into a process that provideslong-term direction coupled with short-termgoals, objectives and performance measures.The community indicators help the county betterTABLE 3Board of County Commissioners’Five Adopted Indicators• Energy: Per capita consumption by source (75% alternativefuel vehicles purchased by county in 1998-99)• Vehicle miles: Traveled per person per day• Solid waste management: Tons recycled of residentialand nonresidential; tons put in landfills• Litter Index• Community appearance: Number of people who believeour community has a pleasant appearance in which tolive and workWASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 9TABLE 4How Washoe County IntegratesTMT’s Community Indicators1. County commissioners use the indicators in strategicplanning to establish strategic priorities important to ourcitizens.2. Departments then use the indicators to identify thepurpose of their units in measurable and auditableterms—through outcomes achieved, rather than servicesprovided.3. They set annual objectives to meet their purpose andidentify “metrics” to measure how they’ll meet theirobjectives—often the community’s indicators.4. Management sets annual performance targets—including benchmarks compared to prior years or otherjurisdictions or agencies.5. Budgets are developed based upon achieving theobjectives.6. Managers monitor performance and adjust the allocationof resources.7. TMT uses the performance measures in tracking theindicators and reporting quality of life improvement anddecline over time.understand our citizen’s vision of the future. We keepcitizens informed and ask them regularly for feedbackso we understand the services citizens are willing topay for.”Washoe County uses TMT’s community indicators,in conjunction with citizen surveys, focus groups anddata from other sources to develop an environmentalscan of the county each fall. Department headsidentify strategic issues of high priority for thecoming year. The Board of County Commissionsand department heads conduct strategic planningworkshops to review important issues and the boardadopts the strategic plan by the end of October,which becomes the basis for the development ofbudget guidelines. Based upon the county’s strategicpriorities, department heads identify what theyTABLE 5Washoe County StrategicPriorities (FY 2008-09)1. Improve public safety, security and health2. Preserve and enhance our quality of life3. Improve regional collaboration4. Improve government efficiency and financial stability5. Provide excellent public services6. Develop our workforceneed to accomplish and the level of service, inways meaningful to their customers as measurableoutcomes. Budgets are adopted in May to achievefiscal year objectives. Management monitorsperformance and service levels, adjusting resourcesbased upon availability and strategic priorities.The natural environment and open space:An integration exampleMany of the people living in the Truckee Meadowsmention the natural environment first when talkingabout the region’s quality of life. The communityhas long focused on protecting its natural assetsfor future generations. Some of the early naturalenvironment indicators tracked by TMT included thefollowing: Pollution Standard Index; water demand;number of wetlands protected or lost; number ofstructures located in flood plain; annual Audubonbird count at Pyramid Lake; wildlife habitat acrespreserved; hillside and ridge-line acres protectedfrom development; landfill waste; toxic andhazardous spills; open space acres; parks acreage;and miles of trails. During the community indicatorreview and update process discussed earlier, thecommunity reinforced its long-standing commitmentto the protection of our natural environment andexpanding open space access and connectivitythrough trails.TABLE 6:Natural environment quality of life indicatorsCommunity VisionClean air and water support healthycommunities, recreational options,diverse wildlife and natural resourcesfor enjoyment by future generations.We can all enjoy the varied andbeautiful lands, plants and animalsthat make the Truckee Meadowsbeautiful. As much as possible, we livein harmony with our environment.28. Air qualityIndicators29. Clean & availablewater30. Open space access &connectivitySupporting data measures (partial list)• Pollution Standard Index• Average yearly pollutants in Truckee River• Water conservation reported behaviors• Open space acreage measures• Miles of connected multi-use trails• Open space access reported priorities& behaviorsReal Story No.1WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 10TABLE 7Washoe County 2001-02natural resources compactFive improvement goals withstrategies and associated measuresStaff across the Assessor’s Office, Community Relations,District Health, General Services, Juvenile Resources,Library, Parks/Recreation, Public Works, Purchasing,Water ResourcesAir quality – 90% Ý alternative fuel new vehiclesWaste reduction – 29% Ý Þ recycling rate county-wideEnergy conservation – 21% Þ energy + 14% cost savingsWater conservation/quality – 10-15% Þ water usagePublic education – mentoring new compacts (open spacecompact forged among Girl Scouts of the Sierra Nevada,Nevada Land Conservancy, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautifuland Sierra Pacific Power)Washoe County understands the public’scommitment to the natural environment, which inpart led to its Quality of Life Compact. Followingthe compact, Washoe County continued its workto improve the natural environment by increasinginternal recycling efforts, resulting in a 50 percentreduction of trash sent to the landfill, re-usingeffluent water for golf course irrigation andexpanding use of photovoltaic technology, amongother stewardship policies. These recycle andreuse policies changed how the county conductsits business. Current goals include reducing paperprocesses through the increased use of technology.Today, “preservation of our natural resources,open spaces and magnificent natural landscape” isone of Washoe County’s strategies to meet its missionand strategic priority to “preserve and enhance ourquality of life.” The Regional Parks & Open SpaceDepartment “preserves accessible and natural openspace through developing, maintaining and preservingparks lands and facilities.” Part of the CommunityDevelopment Department’s mission is “to guidethe creation of livable and economically viablecommunities in the county that reflect the public’sdesire for open space.” Table 8 illustrates howthese two departments integrate the community’spriority for open space. Note that Washoe Countyis also implementing an Open Space and NaturalResources Management Plan (2008) and the adoptionof the 2007 Truckee Meadows regional plan, whichincludes policies supporting growth management,including open space. Additional departments withReal Story No.1related goals and objectives include Public Works, AirQuality, Water Resources, Building & Safety, Libraries,along with the Regional Transportation Commission.Preserving open space may not be a legal mandatefor the county, but the community is better todaybecause of regional concern for acquiring accesspoints and connections to trail networks forpreservation and future use.Additional integration examplesWashoe County has integrated TMT’s Education& Lifelong Learning, literate community indicatorin the community’s libraries. The Washoe CountyLibrary Community Resource Center has helped morethan 1,500 individuals meet literacy, educationaland employment needs and successfully enrolled126 participants in the online General EquivalencyDiploma program. Washoe County library systemhas expanded its role, hosting more than 2,600musical and entertainment events and makingcontact with more than 75,000 youth and adultsthrough partnership with the Pioneer Center forPerforming Arts. The center is also advancingindicator measurements in Arts & Cultural Vitalitywhile encouraging a literate community by bringingindividuals into the community’s libraries.Washoe County encourages effective civicengagement and makes government departmentsmore accessible to its citizens. This is commonlypurported in county and municipal governments;however, Washoe County has found unique waysto encourage the community to adopt quality oflife indicators. The Washoe County LeadershipAcademy recruits and trains volunteers to identifyprojects that cultivate participation in countyoperations. Similar to citizen education effortsin other communities, it measures the number ofacademy graduates from the 12-week programand the number of implemented projects thatparticipants and volunteers have recommendedto county administrators. Washoe County staff isevaluated annually using TMT’s Civic Engagementindicators to ensure that their efforts are consistentwith community priorities. The community’s visionfor civic engagement: Being connected to, investingin and belonging to the community is the essence ofdemocracy, social responsibility and stewardship forthe future. Residents are engaged civic participants.We welcome diversity of perspectives, age, genderand orientation, cultures, races and ethnicities ingovernance that guides our community.WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 112008-10 Key Outcomes2.1 Protect and cooperatively planregional parks, open space andecosystemsTABLE 8Washoe County open space indicators integration (partial list)Strategic priorities• Complete 100% of Natural Resources Master Plan• Preserve and plan for regional parks, trails and open space• Develop a long-term mechanism for maintenance• Work cooperatively with Flood Management on development of parks and open space• Identify and secure funding for preservation of aging infrastructure• Coordinate with all related agencies for community connectivity through trailsSuccess indicators (TMT’s communityindicators listed above; note thatadditional measures include therecreation and land use balance andsensitivity indicators)30. Open space access andconnectivity• Neighborhood/community parks/1,000persons• Regional park acres/1,000 personsPerformance measures & targets: Regional Parks & Open Space2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 est.# Regional parks visitors (millions)# Parks acres maintainedMaintenance FTE% Quality rating “good or better”FTE’s/1,000 population (excluding golf)Open space acreage available to users# Acres acquired for regional parksor open space# Recreational trails projects completedPotential acres in unincorporated countyidentified in adopted open space plan# Acres with open space land use designation# Acres acquired for open space(without open space land use)% Open space relative to potential3.2 3.0 2.8 3.0 3.0975 984 1,030 1,40019.2 23.2 25.0 26.581% 90% 90%0.278,000 9,627404 100Performance measures & targets: Community Development2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 est.460,000 460,000 460,000 500,000278,000 278,000 278,000 278,000935 500 500 2001261.3% 61.4% 61.4% 61.4%Other examples of Washoe County CivicEngagement initiatives include TMT’s indicatorVoter Turnout, as measured by the percentage ofeligible population that registers and votes, as wellas barrier to voting. As shown in Figure 1 on page12, the percentage of eligible Washoe County votersis consistently higher than the voter turnout as apercentage of eligible voters. As a direct result of thisdata, Washoe County participated in a voter turnoutcompact with TMT. Led by the Library System, inconjunction with the Nevada Museum of Art, NewVoters Project and the Registrar of Voters, theinitiative aimed to increase the number of registeredvoters and voter turnout for the primary and generalelections. Results at five libraries, serving as earlyReal Story No.1voting locations, were so successful during the 2004elections that the compact expanded for the 2006election. Following the highly successful compact,Washoe County implemented a youth voter initiativeand a 2008 public information campaign to attractunderrepresented eligible voters. Additionally, indirect response to voter complaints, Washoe Countyredesigned its sample ballots, including establishing adual review process for Spanish- and English-languageversions to remove barriers to voting. TMT assertsthat, “Giving your best here and now indicates civicand social connectivity, strengthens inclusion, andprovides a sense of pride and community.”Quantitative data helps a community to build uponits successes; however, the combination of statisticalWASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 12* Presidential year (Note: Washoe County voter registration dropping as a percentage of eligible population isa result of purging inactive voters over time) Source: Nevada Secretary of State Official Election Abstractsdata and qualitative values help communitiesidentify issues that merit priority and attention. TheWashoe County District Health Department tracksrates of communicable diseases. In conjunction withthe TMT Health & Wellness quality of life indicators(access to health care, wellness & preventativehealth care, and mental health & social wellbeing),the community has learned that the trend line forchlamydia has increased (as illustrated in Table9), providing an opportunity for feedback to thegovernment to address this health crisis.The nation’s economic downturn has devastatedthe delivery of health and human service programsin Nevada. Washoe County has reduced outreachfor communicable and chronic disease transmissionby nearly one-half. However, because of TMTcommunity indicator data, this funding was notentirely eliminated and the Washoe County HealthDepartment used the required reduction as anopportunity to build coalitions and partnerships toimpact this indicator. TMT will track communityresponse to this action in 2009-10. As of June30, 2008, there had been an estimated 350 newchlamydia cases, 111 percent of the projectedobjective.Real Story No.1No community is without its challenges andthreats. Washoe County has used TMT’s securefamilies indicator and domestic violence childabuse, neglect & placement measures todifferentiate suspected and substantiated childabuse reports as a method of determining the needfor family preservation programs versus punitiveinterventions. Washoe County child abuse referralsand child placement statistics demonstrate thatthe substantiation rate for child abuse reports hasremained fairly consistent in recent years. WashoeCounty Human Services Network has developedprograms to identify and assist families at riskof abuse and neglect. These targeted resourcesand services have helped many families and havebrought the child abuse and neglect rates down.Washoe County’s planning, budgeting andperformance measurement and managementsystem recently allowed the county to makeextensive reductions after several years ofeconomic expansion, and at the same time, investin services important to its citizens. Accordingto Katy Simon, Washoe County Manager, “TheCounty was able to balance the 2007-08 and2008-09 budgets, with $15 million and $28 millionWASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 131:2 Department ObjectivesReduce incidence of communicableand chronic disease throughcommunity education of riskfactors associated withdiseaseTABLE 9Washoe County Health DepartmentFiscal Year Measures# of health fairs, presentations media opportunities, etc.,used to educate the community# of active cases of tuberculosis/100K# of new HIV infections/100K# of new chlamydia cases/100KFiscal Year MeasureHealth fairs, presentations mediaopportunities, etc., used to educate thecommunityActive cases of tuberculosis/100KNew HIV infections/100KNew chlamydia cases/100K2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09Actual Actual Actual Estimate EstimateN/A 207 278 227 1256 4 3 3.9 411 11 11 9.5 7.3265 263 340.5 315 315in reductions, respectively, from the General Fund.There are currently 230 positions vacant (7.5 percentreduction of work force) and no tax rate increase.This is a decrease in spending per capita of 5.16percent during a period of time showing a 5.4 percentincrease in the combined growth in population andCPI.”Community ToolboxTMT’s community-defined indicators have beenupdated by engaging the community numeroustimes since 1993, most recently in 2007 to ensureoutcomes-based measures relevant to the changingregion. (You can find more information about TMT’sengagement processes in the End Notes.)Following are links to TMT and Washoe Countyresources that can easily be replicated in othercommunities.• TMT’s community wellbeing reports and onlinecommunity indicator updates are valuable toolsused by Washoe County and other stakeholders togauge whether policy and programmatic decisionswere beneficial over time.• The Adopt an Indicator program allowed electedofficials to initially see what’s important tocitizens through actionable pledges to improveindicator performance.• The Quality of Life Compacts program is acollaborative capacity-building model to improvetargeted indicators. The collaborative programReal Story No.1is also well documented (see End Notes) anduses a generic contract agreement to initiate theactionable process, including outcomes reportingand stewardship following the compact agreementtime period. Washoe County’s natural environmentcompact with TMT (see Table 7) demonstratedthat management and staff could work acrossdepartments and with other agencies to set targetsimportant to residents and measurably improveidentified indicators within a timeframe, includingreporting and stewardship activities.• Washoe County’s annual Budget Book documentsstrategic priorities, plans and performancemeasures for all county programs. In addition,the Performance Measurement and ManagementSystem report is also published annually,documenting performance over the last fouryears. Washoe County’s environmental scan,strategic plan, strategic management report andperformance status reports by strategic priorityare also available on the county website.TMT is currently implementing online adoptionreporting and an online version of the collaborativecompacts, making it easier for partners andcoalitions to initiate new compacts to improveselected community indicators, including an onlinereporting component for wider results dissemination.In addition, Washoe County’s business planning,budgeting and performance measurement system arewell documented on its website and by other countyand government associations.WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 14Future ChallengesThe economic downturn has hit the state of Nevadaharder than most other states. Programs and serviceshave been deeply cut at the state and local levels, andthe not-for-profit community is experiencing setbackafter setback. A noticeable reduction in discretionaryspending has substantially reduced charitable giving.Philanthropic foundations also have reduced gifts,grants and awards. In this economic climate, a lack ofresources cannot be overstated as a major barrier tofull integration of the indicator process in government.As a small nonprofit, TMT relies on a cadre ofvolunteers to perform the majority of its work. Theorganization has been conservative with its resourcesto carry out essential services such as the validation ofresearch data, financial audits and annual accountingreports. TMT’s only staff is its part-time executivedirector. Washoe County tax revenues have declinedsignificantly due to falling property values, sales andgaming taxes. Thus, without dedicated staff andresources, neither TMT nor Washoe County can supportstaff to work more closely together. In this economicclimate, the city, county and state jurisdictions areaggressively consolidating administrative services,yet elected officials have been unable to agree to usestandardized indicators for planning, tracking progressor reporting outcomes. Although this is not uncommon,term limits at the state level will turn over 30 percentof seats in the 2012 elections. The dynamism of cityand county elections create a barrier that is difficult toovercome as the changing cast of local elected officialsmust be informed and educated. According to TMT’sexecutive director, Karen Hruby, “An undeniable factorin TMT’s longevity as the community’s quality of lifeorganization, is that we have remained independentand non-partisan. It has earned our citizen’s trust forunbiased and comprehensive reporting.”Sustainability: It’s within our graspThe integration of citizen-driven communityindicators into Washoe County’s PerformanceMeasurement and Management System, along withannual strategic planning and resource allocationactivities suggest that the county will continue to useTMT quality of life indicators to identify prioritiesand incorporate the community’s vision, values andfeedback into initiatives, programs and services.Washoe County routinely communicates with TMTstaff, board members and volunteers to ensure jointactivities complement the other. Washoe Countyencourages staff to participate on TMT committees,Real Story No.1with focus groups and on TMT’s board. As an example,Washoe County Community Relations Director KathyCarter served as TMT president from 2004-05 andseveral Washoe County Health Department staffmembers serve on a new TMT Youth Risk BehaviorTask Force, tasked with identifying strategies toreduce drinking and substance abuse, inappropriatesexual behaviors and suicidal attempts amongWashoe County School District middle and highschool students. The Board of County Commissionersrecently invited TMT to present an overview of theupdated indicators at one of its meetings to educatenew commissioners and the attending public.Further, sustainability of citizen-driven performancemeasurement is assured since Washoe CountyManager Katy Simon was appointed to the Stateof Nevada Vision Stakeholders Group. The group ischarged with recommending strategies to advanceNevada’s standing in key quality of life areas. “If youdon’t tie community indicators to performance thatis measured in government and for which someone isaccountable, nothing will happen,” Simon said at arecent meeting. Simon also referenced Paul Epstein’sbook, “Results that Matter,” and the TMT website.The only challenge anticipated to the sustainabilityof the partnership between TMT and Washoe Countyis funding. Nevada is experiencing unprecedentedeconomic hardship that has severely and negativelyimpacted city, county and state staffing, funding andoperations. Washoe County has cut more than $100million from its budget and eliminated more than 500staff positions in the last four years. Washoe Countyremains committed to the continuing use of citizendrivenperformance measures, yet the reality is fewerstaff and even fewer financial resources to ensurethat this partnership is unaffected, and structuraldeficits are expected to continue for several moreyears.Beyond government: Realizing integrationacross the communityWashoe County’s use of TMT’s communityindicators is high, but on a scale from 1 to 5 (nointegration to full integration) consensus is thatthe entire community is two-thirds of the way tomature integration. The indicators drive countystrategic priorities, help set annual targets, identifymeasures and monitor performance, but WashoeCounty’s Performance Measurement and ManagementSystem is a basic part of the county’s departmentalbudgeting process. Consequently, the community’sWASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 1533 indicators get lost within the reporting system andare not referenced, nor are the indicators referencedas a transparent data-driven tool for decision- andpolicy-making. However, Washoe County specificallyreferences TMT’s community indicators as successindicators or measures for evaluating key outcomesidentified in department workplans and performancemeasurement status reports.Citizen participation in the quality of lifemovement—championed by Truckee MeadowsTomorrow—has heightened expectations about thepotential for civic engagement, and organizationsand entities throughout the Truckee Meadows areemulating the TMT model. In September 2009, thecity of Reno began its first update of the CulturalMaster Plan and invited TMT’s Zanny Marsh to cochairthe Leadership, Collaboration and Cooperationad hoc study group. According to Christine Fey, Artsand Culture Manager, “The Reno Arts and CultureCommission wanted its Cultural Master Plan torepresent all of the people in our region. Utilizingthe expertise of a TMT board member who chairedthe TMT indicator review and update process assuredus that that the study group leader would includeall arts and culture stakeholders throughout ourcommunity.”In retrospect, citizen engagement with theindicator review and update process in 2007 wasa harbinger for ongoing commitment to quality oflife, even while the indicators evolve. Communityresponsiveness to its most vulnerable populationsemerged in 2007 as a new indicator following thereview and update process. Initially, the indicatorreferenced elderly adults. Over the last year, theindicator has been used to rally support for personswith disabilities, whose services were cut severelyin the legislative aftermath of Nevada’s economicdownturn. The community has voiced displeasurewith the elimination of services, and TMT has beenurged to track quality of life of this group. Potentialpartnerships are also being explored. The shift toarticulate community values—such as respondingto the needs of vulnerable citizens—is thematicthroughout the updated indicators. The TMT boardhas theorized that the community suffered “growingpains” during the decade of unprecedented growth.Small, established neighborhoods were increasinglycrowded by new developments; independent retailstores were buffeted by big box competition; schoolswere constructed to accommodate burgeoningnumbers of students; and the community seizedthe indicator review and update as an opportunityto emphasize its values. This has remained thenorm. Attendance at the new AAA baseball stadium,which opened April 17, 2009, has consistently drawnimpressive crowds (second in division attendance),and feedback on the TMT Facebook page and TMTwebsite suggests that residents want to trackattendance in the Arts & Culture Vitality quality oflife category.The Truckee Meadows quality of life movementreceives a “shot in the arm” at its biennial Accentuatethe Positive luncheon, a community-wide celebrationof the individuals and organizations that advance theindicators and seek to improve quality of life for allmembers of the community. Historically, this eventhas attracted between 800 and 1,200 participants.This year, in a bold move to expand participationand awareness, all participants will receive a oneyearmembership in Truckee Meadows Tomorrow. TheTMT board supports the effort—particularly in thesebleak economic times—to provide more value for theticket holder’s investment, introduce new communitymembers to the organization, and to encourage newindicator adoption and quality of life compacts.The week following the event, all existing and newTMT members will receive a just-completed reportdescribing how CEOs in our community are usingthe indicators in their organizations. The report willencourage others to get involved and “take quality oflife personally.”Real Story No.1WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 16Lessons Learned1. Plan ahead. Intentional inclusiveness of theindicator review and update process takes advancedplanning and effort. The TMT Quality of Life TaskForce charged with the 18-month review and updateprocess in 2005-06, sought out members of gay,lesbian, transgendered and bisexual student clubsat the University of Nevada, Reno and high schoolstudents at local support groups. Persons of colorwere surveyed (by their choice) at churches andsocial gatherings. Seniors were personally contactedby volunteers at Washoe County Senior Servicecenters. Persons with a Spanish-language preferencewere cultivated on Spanish-language television andradio stations to mitigate reluctance to speak to datarecorders, and volunteers were strategically placedat ethnic grocery stores to collect information. TheWashoe County School District allowed volunteers tomake presentations at high school Spanish-languageclubs. These efforts were undertaken in addition totraditional telephone, electronic and mail surveys,focus groups and personal interviews.There are many more examples but the endresult is that the 2005-06 indicator update wasmore inclusive than previous efforts and thebroad acceptance of the indicators throughout thecommunity speaks to its success. These efforts maybe replicated in communities across the country if theprocess to cultivate, invite and engage participantsis entered into with forethought, intentionalinclusivity and a determination for the process to berepresentative of an entire community. The process—whether executed by staff, not-for profit volunteersor third-party contractors—must begin with adequatetraining that establishes quality of life and indicatordefinitions; project values, goals and objectives;timelines; resources committed to the project; and aprotocol for outcomes reporting to all stakeholders.2. Provide training. Participants in the process wantand require information to be fully engaged in theeffort; therefore, governmental entities must requireall individuals who administer surveys or collect datato be sufficiently trained in group dynamics, meetingfacilitation and research instrument implementationto ensure that the effort is replicable and statisticallyvalid. During the review and update of communityquality of life indicators, TMT developed andadministered training in cooperation with WashoeCounty and one of the regional medical centers.Washoe Medical Center (now Renown Health) hostedReal Story No.1a series of meetings for focus group leaders andreporters/recorders. The meetings—limited to the60-minute lunch hour—included information aboutTMT, the quality of life review and indicator process,and the overarching goal to collect the necessarydata to inform decision-making at the governmentallevel. Trainings were designed to promote interactionbetween facilitators and recorders who would worktogether throughout the process, which developedrapport among leaders, recorders and a dynamicgroup participants.3. Remember that “perception is reality” but itmight not always be accurate. TMT is identifyingways to measure the qualitative, values-basedindicators important to the community and report itin parallel with evidence-based research measures.Governmental infrastructure and staff will be mostreceptive to citizen feedback if they are preparedto “disconnect” investment in systems, measuresand policies and procedures to appreciate citizenfeedback. Only then will the process be mostvaluable. For example, staff may be committed todelivering information in inexpensive ways, througha website or telephone recording, for example, butthey may be unaware that some stakeholders inthe community are reluctant to obtain or unableto access information from those sources. Citizenfeedback may suggest different options that will bemore effective.4. Relate indicators to long-term, communityvisioning and sustainability for future generations.Indicators provide the story of what’s happeningin your community, but by themselves don’tcause change. Acknowledge that improvement isthe responsibility of everyone, not just specificorganizations, local government entities or smallsectors of your community. Build communitycollaborations. Be the information resource forcitizens, advocacy organizations, businesses and othergroups to institutionalize community indicators inyour community.5. Continue re-inventing “new” outreach programsto educate and engage the wider and morediverse community. Empower the grassroots ofyour community, which in turn, drives governmentinvolvement. Then do it all over again to re-engagethe community over time. Governmental entities—which may be perceived as bureaucratic and slowto adopt innovation or change—should communicatetheir desire to anticipate community need and deliverWASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA


Real Stories SeriesPage 17programs and services designed to prevent problems,issues or concerns. In 2004, a task force that includedrepresentatives of Washoe County, the city of Reno,senior volunteers and regional providers identified asix-lane intersection that was difficult for mobilityimpairedpedestrians to cross before the light turned.The light routinely trapped slower pedestrians onthe center median strip, leaving them vulnerableto traffic collisions. The intersection received highpedestrian traffic because it bisected senior housingand grocery and retail shopping. Washoe County andReno officials invited citizen feedback using TMTcultivation and feedback protocol to collect data.The feedback compelled the state Department ofTransportation to modify an outdated, dangerouspedestrian overpass to accommodate mobilityimpairedpedestrian traffic before the intersectionwas the site of a fatal crash.6. Involve the media for greater public awareness,as well as to report progress and performance.7. Continue to engage, inspire and empower anetwork of volunteers new to your community forprogram support. This is especially important as yourcommunity grows or changes.8. Understand that access to resources (communityfunding streams, staff and volunteers) is critical tocommunity indicator improvement projects and allefforts—government or otherwise—to effect positivechange.End Notes1. Previous publications detailing TMT’s original process to identify and select community indicators andQuality of Life Compacts:Besleme, K., Maser, E., & Silverstein, J. (1999) A Community Indicators Case Study: Addressing theQuality of Life in Two Communities, Redefining Progress [retrieved 2003 fromhttp://www.rprogress.org/publications/pdf/CI_CaseStudy1.pdf]Sirgy, J., Rahtz, D., & Lee, D., editors (2004) Community Quality-of-Life Indicators, Best Cases, KluwerAcademic Press, Social Indicators Research Series, Volume 22, Taking Indicators to the Next Level:Truckee Meadows Tomorrow Launches Quality of Life Compacts (Karen Barsell and Elisa Maser)Epstein, P., Coates, P., & Wray, L., with Swain, D. (2005) Results that Matter, Jossey-Bass, ISBN: 0-7879-6058-62. Applied Survey Research and Truckee Meadows Tomorrow (February 2000) Community Consensus onIndicators, What Matters Most: Results from the Community Indicator Balloting3. Reference data was used from the Washoe County Annual Budget, Fiscal Year 2008 – 2009; PerformanceMeasurement and Management System, 4th Quarter Reports, FY 07/08 (plus web status reports); andTruckee Meadows Tomorrow, 2008 Community Wellbeing ReportThe author would like to thank and acknowledge Amber Martin,Truckee Meadows Tomorrow Board of Directors, for her substantialcontribution to research, data interpretation and writing.Real Story No.1WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA

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