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Exploring Shared Services in Ohio, Illinois, and Metropolitan Chicago
Across the country, state and local revenues are still below their pre-recession levels. As a result, many local officials are cutting expenses through the reduction or consolidation of services, according to an August 2012 Economic Situation Summary from the U.S. Department of Labor. A team from the Ohio Department of Education, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, and other education professionals in the state released a shared services action plan for schools and governments. Called Beyond Boundaries, the report provides ten recommendations to encourage shared services among units of government, including:
- Review existing shared services networks to determine the best structure and governance for providing an integrated system of regional shared service centers.
- Expand the state auditor's SkinnyOhio.org website to (1) provide information and tools to determine potential cost savings from shared services and (2) develop an on-line portal of services and products available through existing shared purchasing programs.
- Develop benchmarks for spending and financial reporting to enhance transparency and the evaluation of shared services' cost-effectiveness and performance.
- Remove statutory barriers to shared services and collaboration.
Similar work is also underway in Illinois. The Classroom First Commission, which focused specifically on public school budgets, concluded its work in July to identify efficiencies and address barriers to sharing services. Illinois has 970 public school districts, more than every state except California and Texas. The CMAP region alone has 307 school districts.
GO TO 2040 encourages efforts to share and consolidate local services. It recommends that the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, councils of government, counties, and municipalities continue to analyze the effects of sharing or consolidating local services. Local governments in our region have undertaken a number of efforts to examine shared services. In 2009, a Metropolitan Mayors Caucus task force released a study on opportunities for shared police and fire services. The organization also works with local governments on delivery of shared services.
On the county level, DuPage County has explored shared services through an assessment of special districts. Municipalities, too, are considering creative solutions to providing services on limited budgets. Recently, Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills announced a proposed merger of their police departments.