How to Implement Shared Responsibility in Local Administration

city hall sign

The traditional role for elected officials in the administrative-politics dichotomy is changing. Considering the dynamics of contemporary local governments, collaboration between elected and appointed officials is essential in organizational success. In the old model elected officials did not engage in management and city managers did not engage in politics.  However, the changes in the political and economic environments and the increased complexity of policy decision-making has rendered this traditional model obsolete.

Many scholars and practitioners observe that collaboration between elected and public officials must increase. Elected officials can do more to assist local managers in their administrative role.

Below are resources available that can assist elected officials operating in a shared administrative role:

The Role of Local Elected Officials in Economic Development

The National League of Cities provides top 10 list to guide elected officials in economic development.  Number 10 on this list states that elected officials should act as a leader and forge strong relationships with the staff.

Pension Funding: A Guide for Elected Officials

The Pension Funding: A Guide for Elected Officials provides key facts about public pension plans and why it is essential for elected officials to pass a pension funding policy.  This policy should enable the elected official to have a more active administrative role in pension funding issues.

Navigating the Fiscal Crisis: An Introduction for Elected Officials

The White Paper prepared for ICMA by Alliance for Innovation, Navigating the Fiscal Crisis: An Introduction for Elected Officials, explains the role of elected officials in a fiscal crisis.  The elected officials can help city managers in economic development/recovery program creation and implementation by using their public position to educate constituents about the program.

What Elected Leaders Can Do

This Governing Magazine “Management Insight”, What Elected Leaders Can Do, explains, from the perspective of administrative staff, how elected leaders can be heroes or barrier to effective change. “If you build the relationships, the work will get done.”

Council-Manager Relations: Finding Respectable Ground

Using his more-than 30 years of city management experience, Gary O’Connell, (City Manager, Charlottesville, VA and ICMA-CM) suggests ways for elected and administrative officials to have a successful professional relationship.

Code of Ethics (Elected Officials): Town of Wendell, North Carolina

One of the best tools that local governments can use to develop a healthy collaborative relationship is to develop a code of ethics for elected officials. The Town of Wendell, North Carolina developed a code ethics, for elected officials, which enables administrative collaboration.

The Politics of Outcomes

Governing Magazine writes in this article how elected officials can help increase local government effectiveness by operating under the same accountability measures as the administrative unit.

Lehigh County, PA Officials Briefed on “New Way” to Determine Budget Priorities

The Center for Priority Based Budgeting helped Lehigh County, Pennsylvania elected officials enact an innovative way to prepare annual budgets.  By the elected officials delegating some of their responsibilities in the budgeting process to a consultant they are able to pass a more fiscally responsible budget.  This also helps elevate some of the administrative duties in the budget process for administrative staff.

10 “Musts” for Internal Communications

This blog post provides elected officials with 10 “Musts” for Internal Communications. An essential tool for collaboration is communication.

The Ins And Outs of US City Governance

This document provides elected officials with a general understand on how US city governance works.  Elected officials cannot cooperate successfully without an understanding on how city administration works.

The Four P’s of Selecting an Effective IT Solution: A Checklist for Elected Officials

This checklist provides direction for elected officials considering broad-level IT solutions for government.  It is not only the job of administrative staff to research innovative IT solutions, but elected officials should share some of the responsibilities.

Knowledge Network Topic: Elected Officials

Elected officials should also check out the Life, Well Run’s resources for elected officials.