Accreditation & Self Assessment
A Process for Improvement.
Self assessment using the Public Works Management Practices Manual is a valuable tool for determining how an agency's policies, procedures and practices compare to recommended practices identified by nationally recognized experts in the field of public works. Agencies can use the recommended practices contained in the manual as a model for developing or improving existing practices to enhance performance, increase productivity, and to strengthen employee morale.
The self assessment process can be used simply as a checklist or as a major element in the process of strategic planning. Self assessment involves a thorough, agency-wide evaluation of current management and operations policies, practices and procedures, referred to as "management practices," or simply "practices."
The self assessment process assumes that the agency already has a fundamentally sound corporate culture which is ready for embarking on a process of improvement. The self assessment process and the manual can be used to identify deficiencies which need correction in order to develop a healthy organization. Self assessment is not a substitute for sound management practices, it is a tool for allowing an agency to identify where the organization can make improvements and offers examples of sound management practices.
Each practice is formally documented and compared against the recommended practices contained in the Public Works Management Practices Manual. As a result, problem areas are identified so that the agency can take corrective action. Some practices may be readily corrected during the self assessment process. Others may need significant time and resources to correct.
Agencies who have used the self assessment process report significant gains in productivity and increased employee morale just by virtue of the process. The increased dialogue and cooperation necessary to conscientiously complete the process is sufficient to produce immediate benefits.
Self assessment can be used in many ways. An agency may simply use self assessment as a needs assessment or inventory of the organization's current status. The agency then has the choice of stopping there or proceeding on to establish goals for correcting deficiencies or improving practices. Other agencies may use the tools to fix problems as they are identified. No matter how each agency chooses to use self assessment and the manual one thing is clear, the choice is theirs.
Once the problems identified during the self assessment have been corrected, the organization should be well positioned to provide effective public works services and facilities to the community. However, simply complying with each individual practice does not guarantee that the agency is operating at its optimum effectiveness. Many other factors, such as the corporate culture, interaction with other departments, and political pressures, may affect the overall performance of the agency.
Completion of this self assessment program also serves as an important step toward accreditation. Accreditation is a distinction bestowed on agencies that have used the self assessment process to assist in developing a strategic plan for the agency. Once the self assessment has been completed, agencies will be required to establish goals for complying with recommended practices that are appropriate for the agency. The accreditation process also includes an evaluation by an accreditation team who will perform an on site evaluation and review of documentation produced during the accreditation process.
Staff Contact: Ann Daniels
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