Governor Snyder presented his first State-of-the-State address last night, and delivered a message consistent with what he has said throughout his campaign and in the months following his election success: Michigan’s economy needs a boost, and the most immediate outcome that boost needs to generate is jobs.
His speech was targeted more at the big ideas of where he intends to lead the state, but he did share a few more concrete examples to help illustrate his intention. One of those examples was the Michigan Dashboard – a quick way of documenting the metrics that he feels we need to improve. These are the metrics that will tell us whether his programs and other changes that the Legislature enacts are leading towards the creation of new jobs for Michigan residents.
The metrics are organized in five categories: Economic Strength, Health and Education, Value for Government, Quality of Life and Public Safety. Among those five categories, 21 individual metrics are listed, and for each, data from the previous five years are given, and comparisons to other states are listed as well.
The notion that government would be held accountable to a set of metrics isn’t entirely new. Six years ago, leadership in the Legislature determined that they wanted to use an accountability methodology based on the book “The Price of Government,” authored by David Osborne and Peter Hutchinson. Unfortunately, leadership in the House was more interested than leadership in the Senate, and the governor’s office seemed even less interested in that approach. Even so, at that time, my predecessor, Maggie Bethel, led the charge to show how Michigan State University Extension was able to deliver on the metrics of concern to legislators, and MSUE took the effort more seriously than any other organization inside or outside of state government. The impact papers that Maggie and her communications team generated were remarkable and have continued to influence the way we communicate about MSUE with decision makers.
Governor Snyder’s approach may be more lasting, if for no other reason than the fact that it is originating from the Executive branch this time. Whether it lasts or not, I think it’s prudent for MSUE staff to once again ask ourselves how we contribute or can contribute to improving the metrics on the dashboard.
For example, work our state and local government team conducts that assists local governments in finding ways to collaborate on services across jurisdictional lines should help to improve the metric on state and local government operating costs as a percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Work we do on nutrition education should help to improve on infant mortality, obesity in the population and college readiness. Our Greening Michigan teams can contribute to the clean and safe water resources water quality index. And there are others.
We need to challenge ourselves to be able to show how our work is contributing to these metrics. They are not our only means of accountability, but they are among our important means of accountability. I challenge each of you to think about how your work and the productivity of your work team can contribute to one or more of these 21 metrics. Where appropriate, we need to build these into our logic models as metrics for measuring our program impacts.
I’d like to hear from you with your ideas about MSUE contributing to these metrics. Before you hit the “reply” button and send your ideas just to me, please make a few more clicks by going to my blog and add your suggestions as comments to this posting so that others in MSUE, on your work team and outside of MSUE can read your thoughts as well.
This is a time when we need to be able to once again rise to the challenge, and with the same confidence and boldness that Maggie demonstrated in 2005, speak clearly and demonstrate the value of MSUE for Michigan’s future.