As we developed our plan for providing the Extension service Michigan needs in the 21st century, we realized we had an opportunity to revisit our agreements with each of Michigan’s 83 counties to see if we could find a simpler way of formalizing and living up to our agreements. For decades, Michigan State University Extension has had a unique agreement with each county in the state, and each agreement had nuances unique to the needs and history of political decision making in that county. On the one hand, it seems appropriate for an organization that aspires to be relevant to the issues, needs and opportunities of Michigan residents to be responsive to differences in those needs among counties. On the other hand, managing 83 unique memoranda of agreements exerts a tremendous cost on the county and on our organization. With a great deal of consultation with staff, stakeholders and especially county decision makers, we have made tremendous progress towards a simpler way of conducting business with county governments. We have done this in a way that will reduce operating costs for both MSUE and for the county and at the same time concentrates our resources on program delivery and the impacts our programs provide for stakeholders.
Our district coordinators are doing a tremendous job of being the lead negotiators with the counties in their districts, helping our county partners to understand the intent and impact of these changes and addressing their concerns as they decide whether to continue their partnership with MSUE through the new agreement. Our goal is to have all counties on board with the new agreement as of the beginning of the county’s fiscal year. One county (Presque Isle) actually begins its fiscal year on July 1, and their County Board of Commissioners has approved the new agreement. So they went live in the new system officially last Friday and are working with us as we work through the logistics of implementing this new approach. Baraga County, earlier this year, decided they wanted to implement the new agreement six months early, so they’re working with us through the implementation rough spots as well.
In order to keep staff informed of our progress in getting agreements approved with counties, we have established a spreadsheet file that anyone who has access to MSUE’s space on the ANR Sharepoint site can view. To find it, simply go to this URL: https://share.anr.msu.edu/MSUE/MSUEAllStaff/default.aspx. It will require you to log in to the Sharepoint site with your ANR Net identity.
Currently 11 of Michigan’s 83 counties have approved the new MoA, well in advance of the start of their new fiscal year. The last implementation date will be January 1, 2012. To track our progress, just look for the file named “MOA Info All staff.xls”. And while you’re at it, take a moment to send your district coordinator a thank-you for his or her perseverance in implementing this change.