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360 Review with Cheryl Hughes, City of Palmdale, CA

Posted on February 7, 2015


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Who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned performance review? ELGL loves them so much that we’re embarking on a “360 Review of Local Government.” We’re going to evaluate every single inch of the local government arena by talking to ourselves (a.k.a: other local government professionals), tech companies, journalists, professors, and anyone else who hasn’t blocked our email address.

Cheryl Hughes, City of Palmdale, CA administrative analyst, is one of the leaders of growing presence in California. Cheryl (LinkedIn) is the author of “The SoCal Scene” column. For Palmdale, she coordinates community events and special projects involving collaborating with other departments, citizens, outside agencies, and businesses. She has an undergraduate and graduate degree from National University.

Evaluator

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What I’m Listening to: Mariah Carey’s “Hero”

What I’m Reading: Good to Great by Jim Collins

What I’m Watching: HGTV when I get home from work

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What I’m Doing: This 360 Performance Evaluation

What I’m Proud of: Myself, my husband, and my son

What I’m Thinking: Where will my career be in another year, 5 years, 10 years

What I’m Afraid of: Nothing changing in my career growth

What I Want to Know From You: That I can accomplish any challenge and don’t give up when faced with difficulties. I figure it out and complete the challenge.

Evaluation

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Best part of working in the local government arena. Most frustrating?
The best part of working in local government is making a difference in our community. I am inspired on a daily basis when my responsibilities have a positive impact on the community. Not everyone’s career can have a direct impact on the quality of life and working in local government does this and I take pride in the service I deliver and the difference I make.
The most frustrating part of working in the local government arena is by far the negative public perception of government workers. It is difficult to hear some of the generalized comments and viewpoints about all government workers, especially when I see and work with the most dedicated and highly ethical local government professionals, within and outside my organization.
Describe the current state of local government. Grade?
surviveI think the current state of local government is survival. Today many local governments are just trying to figure out how to maintain current service levels with the reduced resources. In addition, local governments are also having to address rising employee medical and pension costs, which adds to the survival state. But even given the struggle to keep their heads above water, I think local governments have done a very good job and so I would give an overall grade of a B to local governments in general.
Give us three areas in which local government is succeeding.
Government is succeeding in:

  • Being more efficient
  • Being more transparent
  • Being more innovative

Give us three areas in which local government needs improvement.
Government needs improvement in:

  • Providing employee training and development
  • Establishing and implementing a succession plan
  • Budgeting rainy day funds

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For local government, was there any good that came from the Great Recession?
One of the largest lessons for the good that resulted from the Great Recession was better fiscal management. Local governments suffered significantly and many are still recovering. It became apparent where improved fiscal management was necessary to avoid the potential of being in the same predicament again in the future. I think it created enhanced accountability and overall responsibility over public funds.
Another good that resulted from the Great Recession was the need for innovative solutions. Local governments needed out of the box thinking and varying perspectives in order to continue to provide their program and service delivery to the community. As a result of the economic hardships, innovation was key. A couple examples are using community engagement and public-private partnerships.
Evaluate whether local government is prepared for the ongoing wave of retirements.
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Local governments are not prepared for the ongoing wave of retirements. Employee training and succession planning have not been a priority and many local governments reduced and/or eliminated training budgets as a result of the economic hardship. I believe this is slowly starting to change and investment in employees is beginning again, but that multi-year struggle to fund employee training and development will have an impact on filling the gaps today created by the retirement wave.
Evaluate local government’s willingness to embrace new technologies.
I believe there are many local governments that embrace new technologies and prove it through their technology budgeting practices. However, there are also many, many governments that have not placed enough importance in new technologies and do not have funding enough to stay current and up-to-date on technology. Maybe some are hesitant to the importance of new technologies and are in denial about the demand level within their communities.
Wave a magic wand – what three wishes would you grant local government?
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Wish #1: Enough funding for infrastructure
Wish #2: Ability to please all stakeholders
Wish #3: That all employees would be trustworthy and ethical
Give a brief evaluation of your state government and the Federal government.

California Drought-4My brief evaluation of the State of California is that there are too many rigid environmental laws, which affects businesses and residents staying and/or coming to California, as well as the increased taxes associated with all the environmental laws. In addition, there are other laws that have a significant financial impact on the middle class, which also impacts California’s population stability and growth if more and more people are driven to leave the state.
My brief evaluation of the Federal government is that it is more about political parties and pride of one’s own party, rather than what is best for the United States of America and its citizens.

Supplemental Reading

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