Executive Summary The reorganized public policy committee structure recommended by the task force of 2009 has been in place for approximately 18 months, or 2 cycles of appointed leadership, and the committees of the new structure have met 5 times. The new structure concentrates C.A.R.’s public policy (i.e. legislative and regulatory) discussions in four different policy committees which report their work product to either the state or federal level of government committee for review. Staff also reviewed anecdotal reports and surveyed membership of the six committees.
In general, slightly over 70% of the director-respondents said the structure was adequate, good or excellent, with over 50% grading it as good or excellent. Most members thought they understood the system, but most (90%) also suggested that their colleagues needed additional training in how the system works. While most were comfortable with the system, the largest minority voices for breaking out an additional issue area into a sub-committee or separate committee were in Housing for property management, and Taxation and Government Finance, where commercial investment issues are placed.
Two interesting trends appeared in responses:
- Many respondents favored beginning policy committee meetings on Wednesday and through Thursday, if necessary, in order to have all of the committees meet in series, one at a time; rather than in pairs of committees that meet concurrently and finish all the meetings on Thursday.
- Advance preparation and engagement of the committee members, especially committee leadership, was seen as a necessary improvement, separate from committee structure but important to the quality of the discussions.
Possible Considerations: 1. C.A.R. Board meeting schedules could be rearranged to have the four Public Policy committees meet serially, rather than concurrently, with meetings beginning Wednesday afternoon. 2. Additional staff resources could be devoted to training and “engagement” of committee leadership (especially issues chairs) prior to their service and between meetings. 3. Increase committee member engagement by use of all-committee webinars between meetings (already begun in 2011). 4. Committees could review the organization of issue areas within their purview, especially Land Use & Environmental Committee and Housing Committee to ensure issue areas are properly divided. Background Staff was directed to evaluate the success of the reorganized committee structure, which has been in actual operation for about a year and a half. A Survey Monkey questionnaire was e-mailed to members of each public policy committee and level of government committee as part of an informal poll.
In addition to the informal survey instrument, staff has had more detailed conversations with committee leadership, and the survey itself has prompted comment from veterans of the committees and Board of Director meetings.
General Responses The questionnaire attempted to ask the "how is it working" question in three different ways, and responses were divided but generally positive. 72% opined that the public policy committee structure was adequate, good or excellent. 52% if the respondents scored the structure good or excellent. A second question garnered similar results, with 71% of respondents saying the new structure is as good as or better than the old structure. A third question attempting to force a decision on "better, no different or worse" ended up with no consensus and responses all over the spectrum and fully a third having “no opinion.”
Specific Responses When invited to identify specific areas that would profit from change, there were two emergent patterns:
First, veteran directors with both experience and a personal commitment to C.A.R.’s success suggested that any problems with our result are
“not a structure issue, but rather a people issue. Somehow the leadership of each committee needs to really understand the issues and be more prepared.” This issue was identified by C.A.R. leadership as well, and taken in to account in the appointment process for 2012.
Second, two subgroups of committee members suggested that a working group, subcommittee or even a separate meeting time might be merited. In Housing Committee, 36% of respondents suggested that Property Management could benefit from separate treatment. Similarly, in Taxation and Government Finance Committee slightly over one quarter of the respondents thought that either Government Finance (28%) or Commercial Investment (26%) ought to receive special treatment. Note that the respondents were allowed to give multiple recommendations, so the parallel responses in Government Finance and Commercial Investment may be the same C.I. Practitioners that previously resisted consolidation and have organized an informal forum meeting for C.I. issues that meets Friday mornings.
Should staff be directed to prepare separate background materials and a possible recommendation to strategic planning and finance regarding any of the potential changes?