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May 9, 2011


DiNapoli: Building Local Government Leadership

The demands on local government officials have never been greater. The level of complexity and degree of difficulty to provide services under ever-tightening fiscal constraints is growing exponentially. All this puts a premium on institutional knowledge, intergovernmental relationships and sensibilities regarding local conditions. If we expect local government to work better in New York – and we can't afford not to – it's time for the state to provide assistance to strengthen the critical human capital necessary to make our local governments function as efficiently and effectively as possible. Building the capacity and knowledge base of local government leaders needs to become a priority.

My office established the State Comptroller's Local Government Leadership Institute in 2009 to help bring together leaders from all levels of local government to increase dialogue and collaboration, raise awareness of common issues, and suggest practical ideas and advice. At the same time, the Institute reinforces key leadership principles - skills that can help officials navigate today's increasingly difficult fiscal environment.

For the third year in a row, my office is co-sponsoring the Local Government Leadership Institute. This year's theme is "Creating Revenue Through Sustainable Economic Growth." The Institute offers a series of regional seminars designed to combine practical advice and discussion of local government issues with effective leadership and management training. The Institute will be held on May 19 at Hofstra University. Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy will be the Keynote Speaker. Additionally, various local government leaders will share their expertise in two panel discussions focused on economic growth initiatives and available grants. Visit the Institute's website at to learn more.

There are other things New York can do:

  • Expand shared services. We need to apply the shared services concept to financial and management services. This can be done through agreements that enable larger governments to "host" governmental functions for smaller localities, or where governments share the personnel costs of a "circuit rider" who works in multiple communities, or through functional consolidation of certain activities similar to how school districts use BOCES to offer regional services.
  • Create a local government Public Management Intern (PMI) program to recruit and place highly-qualified graduates in local governments for fast-track management development. These interns would be supported through an extensive training program.

New York's local officials are on the front line of the public sector in our state. They deal with the day-to-day challenges to provide government services, attract and retain businesses, and balance budgets with taxpayer demands. It's a tall order, but the Local Government Institute helps make sure those officials have the skills and knowledge to get the job done.



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