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Kent State Develops Northeast Ohio Local Government Collaborative Inventory

Posted June 26, 2011

Intergovernmental collaboration provides opportunities for cost savings, economic development and local government service improvement. Kent State University’s Center for Public Administration and Public Policy has developed a comprehensive inventory of more than 240 collaborative projects that are actively happening or are being explored as ideas for possible implementation in Northeast Ohio. The center released more than 100 ideas for collaboration that are drawn from this inventory on the Kent State website at

John Hoornbeek, director of Kent State’s Center for Public Administration and Public Policy
John Hoornbeek, director of
Kent State’s Center for Public
Administration and Public Policy
“The goal here is to help share ideas about local government collaboration and its potential for cost savings and public service improvements,” says John Hoornbeek, director of the Center for Public Administration and Public Policy at Kent State. The listing of collaborative ideas has emerged from research conducted at Kent State over the past several years.

“In the coming weeks, we plan to release additional information that may be used by state and local leaders to improve public sector efficiency and effectiveness,” Hoornbeek adds.

The collaborative ideas will be sent to Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost’s office for inclusion in its Shared Services Idea Center at The Fund for Our Economic Future, which provided funding support for portions of the work, may also use the information to support its efforts to improve local government collaboration in Northeast Ohio.

“The Center for Public Administration and Public Policy at Kent State has a 30-year history of working with local governments to help them improve their capacities and performance,” says Iris Harvey, vice president for University Relations at Kent State. “Northeast Ohio’s innovative leaders have been forging the trail for others, and what is being learned here may be applied to other parts of the state.”

Some key findings emerging from the center’s work include:

  • Northeast Ohio has a number of early adaptors and innovators in the field of intergovernmental collaboration. Many of those leaders began pursuing collaborative solutions before announcement of the impending cuts in state funding for local governments.
  • Many of the local government collaboration efforts are moving beyond the stage of talk to action and implementation. Of the more than 240 ideas in the current inventory, 58 percent are in the process of moving forward.
  • Participants in surveys and focus groups are voicing a need for information, assistance and tools to help them transform local government through collaboration. The needs expressed include case studies, education and networking opportunities to enable peer learning, research and education to foster effective collaborations and funding for feasibility assessments.

Recent efforts by leaders in Ohio suggest that intergovernmental collaboration can improve efficiency by sharing costs on supplies and equipment through group purchasing, and it can improve services by sharing resources, staff or specialty equipment.

“As local governments experience declining revenues due to the impacts of state funding reductions and the recent recession, it becomes critical to find new, more efficient and more effective ways to operate,” Hoornbeek says.

Other Ohio organizations have been developing ways to assist local governments in making the kinds of transformations that are needed to improve governance and move the state forward in the 21st century. Advance Northeast Ohio, an economic development initiative of the Fund for Our Economic Future, also seeks to improve government efficiency and effectiveness. In 2009 and 2010, it provided financial incentives and recognition for local governments in Northeast Ohio to collaborate through its EfficientGovNow initiative.

“We work collaboratively with the state auditor’s office, the Fund for Our Economic Future and other organizations,” Hoornbeek says. “For example, our center has worked closely with the state auditor’s office in the development of its Shared Services Idea Center, and we have also worked closely with the Fund for Our Economic Future on its Efficient Government Now program. Both of these efforts are seeking to improve local government efficiency and effectiveness.”

Valuable ideas and best practices are emerging from the efforts of these organizations and officials, particularly in Northeast Ohio.

“Kent State is playing a leading role in furthering collaboration and in developing a knowledge base to enable progress in Ohio,” Harvey says.

The findings released by Kent State also were supported by the Knight Foundation through its Civic Commons Initiative.

For more information on Kent State’s Center for Public Administration and Public Policy, call 330-672-7148. View the research findings.