May 26, 2010
Each year the Civic Federation publishes an analysis of Cook County’s proposed Executive Budget (see e.g. Cook County FY2010 Proposed Budget: Analysis and Recommendations). As part of each report, we make recommendations on how to improve Cook County government. Some of our previous recommendations have included the implementation of a long-term financial planning process, limiting annual personnel compensation increases to 3% per year or the Consumer Price Index rate and outsourcing certain non-core government functions to private operators.
The Federation also composes long-term research papers on more specific Cook County topics, including a 2007 report on the need for a separate board of commissioners for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. In 2001 the Civic Federation, in conjunction with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, published the Cook County Cost Control Task Force report. These reports can be found in our online library at civicfed.org.
The Civic Federation is not the only source of reports that outline ways to improve Cook County government. Incoming board presidents, Cook County Commissioners and commissions have produced similar documents in recent years, including transition reports and reform proposals.
Transition reports are composed at the behest of incoming Cook County Board Presidents to guide their actions as they assume office. These reports outline specific ways in which the incoming elected official could streamline costs and improve efficiency in County operations and service delivery. Former Cook County Board Presidents John Stroger Jr. and Bobbi Steele composed transition reports, as did current Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. While President Stroger never publically released the final version of his transition report, Former President Bobbi Steele’s report offered ideas for improving budget and finance, health and hospitals, contracts and procurement and intergovernmental affairs operations.
When taking office in 2002, current Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin commissioned his own transition report to identify priorities and methods by which to reform Cook County government.
Former Cook County Commissioner and current U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley produced numerous efficiency and reform reports during his tenure on the Cook County Board of Commissioners. The reports ranged in topic from improving Cook County government in general to more specific reforms for the Cook County Forest Preserve District and Sheriff’s Office. General Cook County improvement reports included the Reinventing Cook County Government report series, published in 2003, Fiscal Strategies for Cook County in 2001 and the Greening of Cook County, a sustainability roadmap for the County published in 2005.
Congressman Quigley also published a fiscal strategies report for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. For the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Congressman Quigley’s office issued reports on the District’s mission, general fiscal strategies and land acquisition strategies for the Lake Calumet area.
In October 2007 Cook County released a report produced by a ten member Review Committee that analyzed the critical issues facing the Cook County Bureau of Health Services. The report began by restating the Bureau’s mission and then analyzed employee morale, the current governance structure, financial health and general credibility of the system in the community.
Unfortunately, many of the aforementioned reports are not easily accessible online. The Civic Federation is currently working to create a place in our online library to store Cook County transition reports and reform proposals, including many of the reports mentioned in this blog. We will keep our readers informed of our progress on this project and welcome any suggestions or links to reports we may have overlooked. Click the link at the end of this post to email us your recommendations.