Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Analyze This! CPBB Program Costing with ELGL + Shayne Kavanagh of GFOA


"Connecting costs and outcomes associated with specific services is critical to communicating value to citizens."

 

"Program Budgeting is at the forefront of GFOA's priorities right now!"

 

ELGL and CPBB are proud to partner in an innovative webinar training series, "I Want to be Your Analyst." This series, consisting of a monthly blog and training webinar, is intended to provide case studies, introductions to unique analytic tools, and expertise into the hands of all local government (emerging) leaders.

This ten part series will pair proven CPBB concepts and tools with one of our partner local government communities who are actively implementing (or have implemented) our innovative trends. This will provide key insights into how communities actually utilize these tools.



The November Training Webinar

With I Want to be Your Analyst, local government professionals will gain an introduction and key
insights into the CPBB war chest of cutting-edge online tools. On November 18th at noon PST, join ELGL, CPBB and  Senior Manager of Research Shayne Kavanagh with the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) as we explore and discuss the concept of Program Costing. Register here!

It goes without saying that the vast majority of local government's No. 1 priority is to establish a vibrant and productive community by establishing and delivering great results to its citizens. This outcome is typically met by efficient resource utilization and delivering high-quality services that exceed citizen expectations.

Sounds simple, right? But how exactly do you connect available resources, costs, and outcomes associated with specific services to communicating value (results) to citizens? 

Does your local government specifically know, for example, the true cost of your curbside recycling program (including all fees, rates and charges)? With what data would you work with, if you were tasked with analyzing outsourcing (or in-sourcing) vehicle maintenance? What if your organization was approached with a proposal to consolidate inspections services with another jurisdiction - what program data would you have on hand to evaluate and execute the right decision?

Assuming detailed program-by-program level cost data actually exists within your organization, where would you find it? In the budget, on a separate spreadsheet in the Budget Director's or Mayor's office? And again assuming this data exists, what else could you do with it? 


Could you make ready comparisons to other public-sector, or private sector service providers (to evaluate the efficiency or the appropriate sourcing of your programs); could you bring departments into the process of understanding and communicating better what they do, and how much it costs, on a program level; could you see clearly how your workforce is associated with programs (do you have retirement eligible staff serving a particular program, and are you aware of how you'll address succession planning?, for example); and will it allow you to transition your approach (or the department's approach) from line-item budgeting to program budgeting?

Data-Focused Decisions

The truth is that  very few governments are able to meet their No. 1 priority because they don't have the hard data required to make smart and transparent decisions throughout their organization.


Nor do they have the internal structure, a fiscal command center, where the critical data flows together and provides a visual platform for intelligent, transparent, data-focused decisions to be made.

To make smart, proactive decisions, municipal leaders need a fiscal command center for data-creation, data analytics and data-driven decision making. This command center presents an intuitive user-interface to identify the programs and services your organization provides, and translates your line-item budget into a program budget. The development of a program inventory and program costs is the foundational data-set to bring clarity and understanding, data-focused decision-making, in a time when it’s never been so crucial. And it’s never before been so easy to do…

As GFOA’s Shayne Kavanagh enthusiastically relayed to us, “program costing is at the forefront of GFOA’s priorities right now” – and CPBB has been doing Program Inventory and Program Costing in nearly 100 organizations since 2009!

According to GFOA: “Program budgeting is an underlying assumption to many of GFOA's budgeting best practices, and being able to connect costs and outcomes associated with specific services is critical to communicating value to citizens. However, very few governments actually do this fundamental piece well for a number of reasons, including poor definition of programs and technical challenges in accounting for programs.”

Make no mistake, program costing is not easy! As so many leaders know, engaging in the exercise itself is often the result of controversial questions around “sourcing”, assessing fees and charges as they measure against the “true cost of doing business”, privatization, running government “like a business”, public-private partnerships, efficiency analysis and financial transparency.

And yet, therein lay the most exciting realization! Just as GFOA has identified: if you can measure Program Costs, you can answer these questions, and so many more!

The only way to get to the answer of questions like "can we do this program more efficiently," or "are we the best source to provide this service," or "are we recovering the costs for providing this service, both direct and indirect costs"  requires a complete understanding of what the program is, and how much it costs.

The key is a user-friendly, web-based Program Inventory & Program Costing user-interface. It links directly with your line-item budget, translates your line-item budget into a program budget, flows through your payroll data, and generates easy to update Program Costs. Your worksheets are protected and stored on the cloud, providing web accessibility to your organization!

We at the CPBB have seen it again and again – the way to diffuse politics, to temper emotionally-driven decision making in favor of data-focused decision making, can come about with great data. And Program Costing is a center-piece to data-driven decision making!

We at the CPBB have spent our careers delving into the kinds of controversial discussions that have, until now, polarized politicians – whether to outsource, to insource, to raise fees, to lower taxes, to privatize or partner or divest the organization of a service.

We’ve been attracted to these contentious debates NOT because we’re crazy, but because the answers to these questions are so important to get RIGHT! Or, to put it another way, CPBB’s founders designed tools specifically to resolve these kinds of debates, because throughout our careers, like so many of you, we experienced the emotional struggles and misunderstandings that accompany data-less debate!

“Painless program costing” presents an intuitive user-interface to identify the programs and services your organization provides, and translate your line-item budget into a program budget. The development of a program inventory and program costs is the foundational data-set to bring clarity and understanding, data-focused decision-making in a time when it’s never been so crucial. And it’s never before been so easy to do…

Introducing CPBB’s web-based Program Inventory and Program Costing Tool! 




We created this innovative new web tool because our partner organizations wanted an easy to use, web-based tool that would easily connect to your financial system and give you:
  • a tool that allows you to evaluate the fees, rates and charges that you have on a program-by-program basis,
  • a tool that allows you to make ready comparisons to other public-sector, or private sector service providers, to the extent that you want to evaluate the efficiency or the appropriate sourcing of your programs,
  • a tool that brings departments into the process of understanding and communicating better what they do, and how much it costs, on a program level,
  • a tool that can allow you to see clearly how your workforce is associated with programs (do you have retirement eligible staff serving a particular program, and are you aware of how you'll address succession planning?, for example),
  • and ultimately a tool that helps transition your approach (or the department's approach) from line-item budgeting to program budgeting

The GFOA Best Practice for "Measuring the the Full Cost of Government Service" was created over a decade ago... At a time when this data-driven practice, this "evolution" from line-item budgeting is so valuable, so vital to our community's success, we wanted a Tool to make this far easier. We wanted to make it accessible. We wanted it in everybody's hands!

Register here!  November 18th at noon PST, join ELGL, CPBB and GFOA Senior Manager of Research Shayne Kavanagh as we explore and discuss the concept of program costing and the program cost analyzer tool!


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