Consistent with his word, County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith launched a new webpage to share information with the public about “reform” and “transformation” efforts underway in the County of Santa Clara organization.

The webpage provides information about four aspects of County government: organizational transformation, Just Culture, accountability and oversight, and civic engagement. While transformation efforts have been underway for some time, the need for reform recently became apparent.

“We want employees to feel free to come forward to report errors or problems,” said County Executive Smith.  “Recent events have strengthened my commitment to fostering a learning organization where employees feel safe to ‘call it as they see it’.”

Initiatives to Foster a Learning Organization
In 2009, as a part of its Strategic Approach to Organizational Transformation, the County adopted a new mission statement and linked it to shared values and vision elements.  The principles embodied in these documents represent the County’s “North Star” and are the foundation for training that is underway throughout the organization.  They have now been integrated with executive training and evaluations.

A centerpiece for this effort is the Center for Leadership and Transformation (CLT), which engages and empowers mid-level managers to lead the change through collaboration with senior managers and staff.

The new “Just CultureTraining Program will be implemented to address organizational improvement, by presenting a set of design laws that influence the ability to create desired organizational outcomes. The five-skill model is designed to help change an organization’s culture by placing less focus on events, errors and outcomes, and more focus on risk, system design and the management of behavioral choices.

Information about Accountability and Oversight
The recent discovery of abuses by a former Board member signaled the need for review of fiscal controls related to credit card and travel-related purchases.  The County has instituted additional checks and balances, management and staff are assisting one another, and a top to bottom review of policies is underway to ensure that the correct controls and systems are in place.  Information is available on the webpage about the Controller’s Office, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports, and various audit reports.  There also is a link to the County’s Whistleblower Program and the Management and Audit Division which performs detailed audits and analyses of County operations.

“We’ve made changes to key policies governing the use of Procurement Cards (County credit cards) and employee travel,” said Smith.  “These changes will improve accountability and oversight.”

Civic Engagement
A democracy requires the participation of its citizens. There are many opportunities for residents to become more involved with the County, including: Attending public Board Meetings, serving on advisory Boards and Commissions; becoming a volunteer; and following the County on FaceBook and Twitter.

“I am committed to transparency and accountability, and we are currently reviewing additional training strategies that empower employees,” said Smith.  “As the County continues to engage in improvement, we will post updates on the webpage.”