Leadership driven grant planning for a lean economy
Everything your department does from data management to policing strategies needs to be assessed with a "how can we do this more efficiently" attitude
According to the National Institute of Justice, the United States is experiencing the 10th economic decline since World War II. I have been writing and teaching grant writing for more than 35 years and have learned some lessons from my experience during difficult economic times as a leader in executive management through some of those tough times. It is the leader of the organization who severs as the critical fulcrum for the success of the organization.
Hard times require new approaches for budgeting, planning and projects. This applies to the grant process which needs to be driven, now more than ever, with a strong strategic planning process.
Grants will be available during good times and bad, but the competition during bad times becomes more intense.
Currently there are no grants posted for application by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. BJA is anticipating that once the current budget process is completed, we should know what grants will be available by about October 1, 2011.
Now is the perfect time to take a look at your department. The police department which stops to develop a first-time strategic plan or one which stops to assess and refresh its current plan will be poised for the intense competition for resources and money in the fall.
Your police department needs to turn its budgeting process on its head and create a budget which is resource- and asset-driven, not line item-driven.
Use this "grant waiting time" to find ways to increase productivity and to improve your management in all areas of your department.
From my experience, this is not the time for across the board cuts. That approach usually ends up causing more harm than good, especially with your employees' moral.
Everything your department does from data management to policing strategies needs to be assessed with a "how can we do this more efficiently" attitude.
For example, some police departments are first looking to increase fees where possible rather than cut expenditures.
Some are consulting with other organizations and subject matter experts to seek new suggestions for efficiencies instead of cutting in rush.
Others are taking a fresh look at technology to see what IT tools can assist with efficiencies.
Some services in some communities are being outsourced to private resources that can do them at a lower cost. Still some are brainstorming on how to better use volunteers for some non-officer required duties.
As we all understand, there are many challenges for every police department in the nation right now. But with careful assessment and innovative thinking, most will be able to weather the storm.
Challenges such as collective bargaining, community expectations and increasing pressure from you mayor, county administrators, local elected officials will certainly arise. But the department which is driven by the strategic plan, prioritization of goals, innovation and selective alternate funding sources will present a well justified budget.
I found within the organizations which I have led during lean times, we were able to find better operational practices and creative new ways to do business working together as a team. It is during these times, through a thorough strategic assessment, we proactively discovered our business weaknesses and addressed these with new approaches.
Where to start
So where do you start to prepare for future grants? Start by applying the process of performance measurement and outcomes to each policing strategy, current grant projects, information technology process, and day-to-day responsibilities.
Begin by asking the following very simple questions about everything your department does:
• What are we doing?
• How do we do it?
• Why do we do it this way?
• How could we do this differently?
This work may be done by workgroups within your department. Assign specific policing strategies, internal processes, information technology resources, etc., to the appropriate personnel.
These questions can apply to every task within your department. All workgroups must be assigned a leader, specific tasks to address and a timeline for their work completion.
Without these task assignments, the work will not be completed. Hiring a facilitator or consultant may help expedite the process.
The Bureau of Justice Center for Program Evaluation and Performance Measurement may be found through this link. Through the application of the methods provided by the resources on this website, you can assess your department with tools provided.
Also, by completing your process based on the OJP's prescribed methods you will strongly enhance the position of your department for grant funding by all funders, not just the Office of Justice.
The National Institute Of Justice published a report in July 1999 on measuring what matters.
Many helpful evaluation resources are available at the COPS website as well. The five problem solving resources posted at this site are instrumental in assisting your team with problem solving and provide guidance for assessing your process of scanning, analysis, response and assessment of any policing strategy you may wish to explore or measure.
All of the processes discussed in this article are the same processes needed to assess, develop and implement a new grant funded project. Do this now and you will be able to respond quickly and effectively to any funding announcement which fits your policing priorities and needs in your strategic plan in October.
After assisting dozens of federal, state and local government departments, as well as non-profit providers, with their strategic planning over the past 35 years, it has become increasing evident to me that most government and non-profit organizations rarely take the time to address strategic planning. But those which do end up finding the process refreshing and productive, resulting in a directed, prioritized approach to work, sound justification for the budget, new ideas on how to do their business better and a stronger team of employees who worked to help with the planning.
All grant funders (federal, state, private and corporate) require that the grantee be effectively and efficiently managed, have a strategic plan, understand and justify their priorities and measure their organizational and project outcomes. Completing this work now before the results of the 2011-2012 federal budget announcement will put you ahead of the curve for future funding.
If you would like to inquire about strategic planning and the process, please contact us a Policegrantshelp.com. I would be happy to answer your questions.