Michigan Local Government Benchmarking Consortium helps lower costs and improve services

Organizations that want to improve program effectiveness and efficiency need to manage performance, and to do so, they have to measure it. The measures they choose need to be meaningful and linked to a desired goal, result or benchmark.

The Michigan Local Government Benchmarking Consortium (MLGBC) consists of member cities, villages, townships, counties and road commissions working together to share and produce meaningful and relevant performance measures for the purpose of benchmarking. Benchmarking is a tool designed to help local governments improve services and potentially decrease costs. While benchmarking is an important and useful tool for most local governments, tough fiscal times in Michigan necessitate new and innovative ways to satisfy constituent needs under the strain of fewer resources.

The MLGBC helps Michigan’s local governments learn from peers and implement best practices that enhance service delivery.

Facilitated by Michigan State University Extension, members receive information to help them determine how their organizations compare to other local Michigan governments with the ultimate goal of improving the way they deliver services. Objective and standardized data is provided to allow participants to document the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery.

“The Benchmarking Consortium has encouraged the City of Petoskey to start thinking about the delivery of services quantitatively, and has allowed us to easily compare our services with communities across Michigan. This has led us to ask critical questions about the efficiency of the services we deliver – questions that we would not have asked had we not participated in the Benchmarking Consortium,” said Dan Ralley, city manager of Petoskey, which is a member of the consortium.

Participation in the MLGBC offers member jurisdictions the opportunity to take part in an established program of comparative performance measurement covering many key government services. These service areas include:

  1. Assessing and Equalization
  2. Clerk and Elections, Register of Deeds
  3. Code Enforcement and Building Inspections
  4. Emergency Dispatch
  5. Fire/EMS Services
  6. Fleet Maintenance
  7. Human Resources
  8. Information Technology
  9. Library Services
  10. Parks Maintenance
  11. Police and Sheriff
  12. Refuse/Recycling/Yard Waste Collections
  13. Road Maintenance
  14. Water& Sewer Treatment & Distribution

The City of Warren used performance measurement techniques to dramatically improve the efficiency of its water department. Actions included better sludge grinder function via process control to eliminate storage tank deragging, a move that saves $100,000 annually. It also achieved more precise level sensing in blending tanks that eliminated overflow problems, saving $30,000 per year.

Meridian Township has optimized its staffing levels by utilizing the comparable benchmark data and also has integrated the comparable data into the township’s budgeting process that has provided the basis for balancing its budget.

Michigan member jurisdictions invite all Michigan local governments to join the MLGBC. The consortium continues to grow, each year building on the strength of its members’ dedication to using data to inform and improve performance in Michigan’s local governments.

For more information and to see a complete list of members, go to the MLGBC website or contact Mary Schulz, program director of the bechmarking consortium, at 517-355-2160 or schulzm2@msu.edu.

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