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Consultant recommends improvements, finds positives for Santa Barbara County Executive Office
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Consultant recommends improvements, finds positives for Santa Barbara County Executive Office

A series of initiatives to make the County Executive Office more efficient and improve the operation of its divisions and other departments were recommended Tuesday by a consultant in an evaluation delivered to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Representatives of KPMG delivered the evaluation that found a lot of things right with the operation of the CEO’s office but still had a number of improvements they said would become cumulative when added to the analyses coming of other departments.

Four departments have been or are being evaluated, with all nine of the county’s departments being analyzed over the next three years.

“We decided to go first to lead by example, as I think it’s important to do,” explained Jeff Frapwell, assistant county executive officer.

Frapwell said KPMG’s evaluation “will give us a fresh eye” and “an independent look” at how well county government is operating.

“There are many things the department is doing well,” said Caoimhe Thornton, who delivered portions of the report on the CEO’s office, adding the consultant’s recommendations provide opportunities for improvement.

She said the CEO’s office has met a significant number of goals set in the Renew ’22 initiative, noting the consulting firm doesn’t see many counties with similar goals for improvement.

KPMG’s recommendations were made in three areas — enterprise enablement, office enablement and office programs — with five recommendations for each area.

Under enterprise enablement, the report recommended expanding Renew ’22 to set priorities for the county as a whole and putting more emphasis on “horizon scanning,” or budgeting well into the future.

They also recommended holding regular meetings among the assistant county executives and department heads to find common solutions, set priorities for initiatives that are being carried out simultaneously and determine what elements should be implemented.

“We believe these five initiatives represent a step in enhancing the maturity of the office,” said Bill Zizic, managing director. “We don’t want to suggest the office is chaos, by any means.”

Under office enablement, Thornton said the county should see if every employee is performing at the top of his or her level, noted there is a high risk of losing institutional knowledge as employees retire or otherwise leave.

She said the county should be sure information is moving both up and down through the organization, go to a paperless management system and employees should take more ownership and responsibility for strategic initiatives.

Program improvement included integrating more technology and automation, looking to other county departments for support, making sure all departments are aligned and having the tools to implement initiatives and improve integration with other departments.

“We believe they already have looked at many things off this list,” Zizic said.

County Executive Officer Mona Miyasato said her office should have a framework for making the improvements by fall, when many improvements will be implemented.

“The consistent theme I saw throughout this document is prioritization,” 4th District Supervisor Peter Adam said. “I think that’s a thing that really needs to happen.

Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann said the report was a good reflection of how the CEO’s office is performing.

“It gives me a sense of well-being about our county,” she said. “It is time to look externally [at[ what does our county really want. We don’t really know what we want to be when we grow up.”

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News Editor

Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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