In Cook County, Illinois, the government provides vital services for public safety, health, property and economic development to more than five million residents. Interestingly, Cook County also runs the second largest unified court system in the world and the second largest public hospital system in the country. Accenture collaborated with leaders across agencies in Cook County to develop an enterprise government transformation strategy to reduce the deficit, improve government service delivery and build accountability for high performance.
As part of this collaboration, the team identified more than a dozen budget transformation opportunities that have the potential to scale to up to $500 million in total annual benefits. These opportunities focused on balancing material financial impact with low execution complexity (e.g., cost, political hurdles). Accenture and Cook County prioritized opportunities to yield quick wins that would provide immediate cost reduction or revenue generation to reduce the budget deficit in 2011 and beyond. Accenture also helped the County’s leadership to identify initiatives and performance management techniques to improve accountability and transparency over time.
Watch this video to hear about this project in the words of Cook County and Accenture leaders.
Cook County had goals similar to those of many public service organizations. They wanted to find new ways to be more accountable and transparent. The pursuit of greater transparency included a need to know more about the County’s current budget deficit. Entering 2011, the newly elected Cook County Board President had an unknown deficit of 10-20 percent of annual spend. The Administration was also committed to delivering on the promise of a reduction in sales tax, which would place additional fiscal pressure on the County.
To endure this added financial pressure and continue on the journey to high performance, the County’s leadership had to quickly understand the size of the deficit, identify opportunities to reduce the deficit and determine how to build accountability toward executing against those opportunities for cost savings.
Bringing together the best strategies, tools, technologies, processes and people, Accenture followed an informed approach that combines a long-term view of success with a pragmatic focus on achieving near-term results for Cook County.
Accenture and Cook County focused on three key phases to enable sustainable government transformation:
Phase 1: Discovery and planning – Collaborating with Cook County leaders from across agencies, as well as outside subject matter experts from across a range of industries, Accenture helped to create an enterprise government transformation strategy to reduce the deficit, improve service delivery and build accountability for high performance.
Phase 2: Define the operating model – To shape a strategic operating model, Accenture met regularly with key members of the Cook County President’s office, financial leaders and stakeholders. This collaborative team gathered insights into end-to-end, finance-related activities to capture answers to questions such as: What was the County’s revenue strategy? How was the County generating fees? What were the opportunities for cost savings and transparency?
Phase 3: Develop the roadmap – To ensure that the operational priorities identified could be executed, Accenture developed a clear roadmap that outlined the path forward. The roadmap defined several opportunities for Cook County to achieve its accountability and transparency goals. The collective team identified more than a dozen government transformation opportunities to help address the budget deficit. Accenture’s collaborative work with the transition team, County employees and external advisors was a critical success factor.
The government transformation effort in Cook County has placed the organization on a fast track to high performance. Perhaps most importantly, the team identified a dozen plus government transformation opportunities that will improve productivity for Cook County. The clear roadmap that Accenture developed would help guide the County on its journey to achieving more than $450 million in annual savings through a phased set of strategic initiatives.
Accenture research and experience indicate that government agencies can improve government productivity without experiencing corresponding increases in revenues. We have also found that informed phasing of initiatives can overcome political, cultural, structural and financial roadblocks to success. In that spirit, the project targeted quick wins as well as long-term savings and performance improvements. The team also quickly addressed the new Administration’s near-term need to clearly quantify the budget deficit. The team discovered the deficit to be $487 million for 2011, more than 50 percent higher than low-end estimates by outgoing County leadership.