In April of 2010, the Massachusetts Regionalization Advisory Commission issued its findings advocating for inter-local partnerships in eleven specific areas. The study found that “as the costs of government services rise faster than available revenues and cities and towns struggle to provide essential services, regionalization and collaboration become more palatable to municipalities wishing to deliver essential local services more economically and efficiently” (Massachusetts Regionalization Advisory Commission, 2010, p. 43).
This research seeks to assess in what ways, to what extent and for what reason could and should a municipal performance measurement and management model, like the ‘Stat’ model, be adopted and amended to measure and improve the performance of inter-municipal partnerships?
Adopted in Springfield, Lowell and Somerville Massachusetts, the ‘Stat’ model is the process of holding “an ongoing series of regular, frequent, periodic, integrated meetings during which the chief executive and/or the members of the chief executive’s leadership team plus the individual director (the top managers) of different sub-units, use data to analyze the unit’s past performance, to follow-up on previous decisions and commitments to improve performance objectives, and to examine the effectiveness of its overall performance strategies” (Behn, Robert. 2008, p. 2).
In order to assess if a PMM can and should play a role in inter-municipal partnerships, this research first focuses on the extent to which inter-municipal partnerships have successfully been established in the Commonwealth. Three categories of inter-municipal partnerships were identified: 1) those with thorough integration; 2) those with moderate integration; and 3) those with moderate to low integration. A total of 5 cases of inter-municipal partnerships in the Commonwealth are examined and assessed for their compatibility and aptitude for continued or greater success with a PMM. Finally, a critical analysis and discussion of the findings yields a final recommendation of one of the considered alternatives.
The results showed that it is not, in fact, possible in most cases to adopted a performance measurement and management model designed for a single municipality to meet the needs of an inter-municipal partnership. Their needs and capacity are simply too different. Only in the cases where an inter-municipal partnership is working on a large-scale, long-term project and is working as a united front with a shared vision of success, can a PMM like ‘Stat’ be effective in an inter-municipal environment because it is centralized enough.
That said, in the vast majority of inter-municipal partnership cases where ‘Stat’ doesn’t work, performance evaluation is still conspicuously and unnecessarily absent. Therefore a coordinated effort to establish inter-municipal partnerships with ad-hoc PMMs, that are customized to fit the varying needs of counties, regions and partnerships across the Commonwealth, should be considered.