Public sector organizations create strategic plans as a public management tool to outline long–term goals and missions for the organization. Most often, strategic plans are creat-ed and adopted in conjunction with the city’s annual budget process to ensure that long-term goals correspond with the organization’s financial environment.
National City has experienced economic ups and downs for the past decade, which has impacted the level of service they are able to provide to residents. For example, in 2005 and 2006, the city faced structural budget deficits that led to a reduction in service and service hours offered to residents in addition to the challenges presented by the national recession that occurred in 2009 and the State of California’s dissolution of redevelopment agencies in February 2012 (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report; CAFR, 2014). City management commented that “National City’s Redevelopment Agency was a crit-ical partner in planning and implementing improvements to the city’s infrastructure, as well as in meeting the housing needs for low and moderate income residents, and the loss of it resulted in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue needed to address these priorities” (CAFR, 2014, pg. viii).
To help overcome this economic uncertainty, in 2007, the City Manager’s Office worked with other city departments to create a strategic plan that was adopted in conjunction with the annual budget process to produce a financially feasible long–term strategy for the city. More specifically, the strategic plan states its goals are to:
• Establish a long–range vision and direction for the City;
• Ensure all participants are working toward the same goals and objectives;
• Assess/Adjust the direction of the organization given the current (and changing) environment;
• Communicate goals and initiatives of the organization; and
• Provide a basis for developing a work plan to ensure the goals and initiatives of the Strategic Plan are carried out (CAFR, 2014, pg. viii).
After the first strategic plan was adopted in 2007, the Council has approved an updated plan every two years.
In preparation for the 2015 strategic plan update, National City management collaborated with San Diego State University’s Public Administration graduate students who were enrolled in the upper–division Administrative Theory course. This report outlines the process that took place between the students and city staff as well as the objectives created by the students for each assigned department. These objectives were presented to the City Council for further discussion.
In preparation for the assignment, an organization chart of National City was presented to the students. The organization chart showed that the city manager and city attorney’s offices are central to National City operations. These two offices oversee four categories that, in turn, provide oversight of smaller city departments. The four categories are: Development, Public Safety, Community and Operations. Examples of departments included within the four categories include: the library, human resources and police.
After students were assigned a city department or category, the next step was to review the city staff’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) document. The SWOT was developed by management-level staff within each department and outlines their office’s capabilities and limitations. Students reviewed the documents and provided recommendations for which items could be further developed into objectives that would ultimately be included in the strategic plan.
Once objectives were established, students analyzed the items further by providing an estimated dollar amount needed to implement the objective as well as alternative sources of funding to be considered. Performance and social indicators were also developed so that progress for each objective could be tracked once adopted. This report will outline these objectives and supplemental information that the students created for each department. The objectives were then presented to the City Council for further discussion.
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