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Reason Foundation

Using Performance Audits to Improve Planning

Leonard Gilroy
January 16, 2005, 8:46pm

Self-described "contrarian" planner Richard Carson (currently the Director of the Clark County, WA Community Development Department) has a must-read piece in this month's Planning magazine describing his department's experience using performance audits to improve service delivery. When hired for the position in 1999, Carson was told that his highest priority was to "change the culture" of the department, which had a reputation for inefficiency and nonresponsiveness to customers. Carson decided that the best approach to achieve cultural change was to bring in a third party to conduct a performance audit, having had positive experiences with that approach earlier in his career. Carson writes: He goes on to discuss the recommendations that resulted from the audit, organizational change to achieve matrix management, and outcomes of these processes. Read the whole thing. What Carson describes is an interesting intersection of two concepts central to Reason's work: performance management as a means to more efficient government, and making the local planning process as flexible and customer-focused as possible. And of course it goes without saying that planning directors nationwide should follow Carson's lead.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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