Monday, May 18, 2009

Prize spurs officials to collaborate

Here's some good news from Northeastern Ohio, as reported by Patrick O'Donnell at The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer:

An non-profit organization known as The Fund for Our Economic Future has posted $300,000 in prize money, to be paid for the best ideas to cut costs and improve services by sharing projects with neighboring cities. The 44 proposals come in various sizes, from the very small to the very large. The public will vote for the winners in a July vote.

All entries must involve cooperation between at least two government agencies to save money or improve services, with the prize being used to implement (not just research) the project.

Examples of proposals include joint equipment purchases, teleconferencing, building new facilities (such as parking and maintenance garages and a recreation center), and combining fire services (such as dispatch and arson investigation).

Brad Whitehead, president of the Fund, said that "many of the proposals may seem simple and obvious, but that's part of the point." Mr. Whitehead "hopes governments will find ways to follow even the proposals that do not win. 'The beauty of this thing is how much of it makes sense,' he said. 'It's all just logical stuff to do.'"

Ohio's tradition of practical innovation at work in the governmental sector! I hope this initiative proves to be wildly successful and spreads to the rest of the State! The other nice thing about it is that it promotes networking, a much more efficient alternative to the consolidation too often advocated for cost savings (for example, by Ohio columnist Thomas Suddes).

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