ACT Initiative: 19 Reforms for Winnebago County Government


Vision: Become the most accountable, collaborative, and transparent unit of government in the state of Illinois.

Local government needs to re-align to better serve taxpayers in the 21st Century through professionalization and best practice. It will take a team effort including staff, board, elected officials, and the community to develop and enact the best changes for taxpayers.

As Chairman, I will report out to the community on the following during my first year in office.

1. Restructure the County Administrative Leadership Team. Includes but is not limited to positions that impact other county departments such as County Administrator, Deputy County Administrator, CFO, HR Director, and full-time IT Director.

2. Implement the Winnebago County Government Report Card. Healthy organizations regularly take part in strategic planning to be intentional about goals and thorough in their analysis. Ongoing strategy must rest on performance and measurement of outcomes. Sustainability comes from data and planning not anecdotes and surprise. Each department will measure and report out. This will assist the administration, board, and community evaluate ROI to taxpayers. Bottom line: if taxpayer dollars or fees are being spent, then it should be publicly evaluated and reported out. No sacred cows. The system will evolve as the county evolves; however, the goal is to create a continuous improvement culture with a focus on outcomes, not politics.

3. Extend Winnebago County Government Report Card to include entities and programs that the county funds through their budget. This includes but is not limited to Host Fees and the 1% Public Safety Tax spending. This allows the county the opportunity to report out to the community on taxpayer ROI.

4. Reform external appointment process. Ensure quality appointments and alignment with non-elected boards. (Advise and consent with board)

5. Evaluate board committees. Create a Board Policy Committee to review ordinances and ensure governance-model is current with best practice. De-emphasize caucus process and emphasize board and board committee process.

6. Conduct an extensive internal and external efficiency / effectiveness audit. This is critical to ensure taxpayer ROI and proper funding of community priorities. No sacred cows. This includes but is not limited to: joint purchasing / resource sharing, reduction in duplicate services, and, when prudent, consolidation of local units of government. Note: consolidation of local governments and services is not always the solution. However, increased accountability and transparency should be the focus when consolidation is not the solution.

7. Eliminate the real and / or perceived culture of cronyism and nepotism. We will review this from three perspectives: leadership, HR policies, and transparency.

8. Improve the dynamic of the administration and board. Treat all board members as valued elected representatives of citizens, not just politicians or a vote to be counted.

9. Meet with county-wide elected officials on a regular, scheduled basis. Build trust, break-down silos, and create understanding about organizational opportunities and challenges. This includes but is not limited to an initial retreat, monthly group meeting and a monthly individual meeting.

10. Increase communication with the community. The State of the County will be a process of on-going updates to the community; not a single annual event.

11. Establish the Chairman’s Advisory Council. Ensure increased transparency and gain access to outside subject-matter expertise.

12. Establish the Chairman’s Youth Advisory Council. Ensure we are engaging young leaders before they graduate high school and leave for college, encouraging public service and a desire to return to Winnebago County to make a difference.

13. Review Finance Department – Internal Audit Department relationship. Revisit recent decision to transfer some finance duties to the County Auditor’s office. Is it really an independent audit if you are reviewing yourself? Is this best practice or a return to an outdated practice?

14. Conduct annual review of finance and human resource (HR) systems and processes. This includes the budget amendment process, bid process, risk management, and ethics policies. Benchmark against best practice in other county governments, municipalities, and the private-sector.

15. Amend lay-over policy. Discuss the possibility of lowering the number of affirmative votes needed to lay an item over to the next meeting.

16. Implement aspects of the State Comptroller’s vendor / campaign donor program.

17. Explore and implement board training. Include new members as well as on-going training for all board members.

18. Build synergy among local, state, and federal elected officials. Work with local, state, and federal elected officials to ensure a new era of partnership and better results for taxpayers. Communication, working toward alignment on key issues, and speaking with one voice as a region will be critical to future state and federal funding. Example: Work with state delegation on possible statute changes regarding consolidation efforts.

19. Rebrand Winnebago County Government. It is important to our image as a community and region that we upgrade the County’s brand.                     www.FrankHaney.Biz