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6 Summary

Identifying the Capacities of Regional Councils of Government

In addressing common issues within metropolitan areas by state, local and federal government, regional councils of government are considered the crucial organizational form. Regional councils are defined as multi-service entities with their boundaries defined within state and local governments served with the responsibility of delivering various local, state and federal programs, planning and providing technical and visionary support to governments. Many government units, though not a necessity, consider them a crucial partner in their efforts of serving the public in issues such as environment, transport and health. Therefore, they are responsible for bringing government units together to address various issues within metropolitan areas. However, they are relatively weak due to complexities within intergovernmental frameworks.

In understanding the capacity of the councils, the article cites that in a research, it was found that regional councils are able to develop visions, strategic plans and support negotiations between governmental units. The findings showed that their capacities are entrenched in inter-organizational capacity to foster activities such as transportation planning, social infrastructure for the citizens, community and leaders and inter-organization of networks within nongovernmental entities. Over the years, the councils have been able to develop capacities to make them operational, viable within politics, and regional governance. Although other regional authorities within metropolitan areas seeking regional collaboration exist, councils of government remain the most viable politically.

This article argues in favor of more attention to how the capacity within these regional councils influences regional efforts of government. This article provides relevant research on key fundamentals that affect the capacity of these councils in their responsibility. Some of the elements or fundamentals posited in the article as crucial in their capacities include, networking in governance, financial issues, leadership, administration, processes and structures, technical capacity and external resources. According to the findings, an assessment framework should be developed based on the fundamental elements that can be used in identification of strategies that can strengthen the role of the councils in regional governance. The article concludes that despite there being other regional authorities, councils of government remain the only politically viable, and a framework for assessing their capacity in helping government units in addressing metropolitan matters would serve to improve them.

Contract City Redux: Weston, Florida, as the Ultimate New Public Management Model City

Contracting has come to be accepted as a normal operation within organizations for providing services in both private and public sectors. Despite being accepted as a normal way of providing services in both sectors, it has been rare to find a municipality that contracts all its functions, including those thought to be crucial and hard to contract such as security. Since its incorporation in 1996, Weston municipality operates with three employees only, while all others services are provided through contract. The employees are the city manager and his two assistants. This has not only changed the way services are provided, but also the role of the city manager. It has changed from the usual daily activities to contract management where he is concerned with the contracts.

Weston’s retaining three employees even to this day is in contrast with other outsourcing cities such as those in California that started the same way with three employee. However, as their responsibilities increased, they increased their employees to serve in the other areas. The main reason as cited by the article for such outsourcing during incorporation of these cities is to minimize on the costs of running all such operations since they may not have had the means for in-house production. At this time, the cost of internal production proved to be higher than the cost of offering municipal services through contracting. For bigger municipalities, offsetting some of the costs of providing services is possible through distributing them within the various cost units. For smaller municipals, this might come as a challenge since they may not have the capacity. The differentiation of small and big municipalities is made using population, where municipals with less than 100,000 people are considered small to be in a position to limit its service provision using contracting. Bigger cities are described as those with more than 500,000 people.

Governing Interlocal Cooperation: City Council Interests and the Implications for Public Management

In developing interlocal cooperation, local managers play an important role. However, some difficulties arise in the interest of the city council that for a long time have gone unstudied enough. The article addresses the importance of having cooperation between the councils and managers. The two groups differ in terms of interests, where the council members are interested with development of network and assessment of agreements while managers focus their interests on education and participation of the public. In order to have cooperation between the two parties, the article provides three propositions that can be using for developing interlocal cooperation through identifying some areas of shared responsibility. This study is guided by two questions. The first one is the interest of city councils members in the interlocal cooperation, and what implications exist for council interests to the council and members in developing the interlocal cooperation.

The interlocal cooperation is integrated and connected with the local government. However, this raises a challenge of understanding the complexity of the integration that continues to evolve as more and more needs arise. In a charge to overcome and understand these complexities, the article provides the three propositions. The first proposition is that elected officials such as city managers are in position to identify the problems within the government due to their immediacy to the public. At their positions, as well as part-time officials who have full-time jobs within the community can identify problems since they interact with the people on a daily basis. Interlocal cooperation should be viewed as an innovative idea of providing better services to the people. The second proposition is that officials should seek beneficial terms within their jurisdiction in the interlocal cooperation. This proposition suggests that if elected officials were to be motivated by their self-interests, it would be realized from the positions they take during provisions for contracts. Therefore, the elected officials should be actively engaged in creation of better contract terms that benefit the interlocal cooperation.

The third proposition is that managers and the council members have different roles to exercise in the development of interlocal cooperation. The proposition suggests that elected officials serve as intermediaries between the public and local government. Within this jurisdiction, they are supposed to ensure that negotiating for good cooperative contracts should be their goal. A good contract for the public is one that provides high quality services while minimizing costs. Based on the three propositions, some of the implications to the public management include, identifying opportunities within their jurisdiction, rethinking jurisdictional self-interest for elected officials, city managers should be in the forefront of fostering structures that allow public participation within community interlocal cooperation and ensuring that complex issues within the interlocal cooperation are responsive and accountable to their jurisdictions.

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