Developing Organizational Governance and Strategy in San Francisco

CBI Facilitates structural and directional refinements to the Bay Area Joint Policy Committee 

Background and Challenges

The Bay Area Joint Policy Committee (JPC) coordinates planning efforts among four San Francisco Bay Area agencies: Association of Bay Area Governments, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, focusing on issues surrounding climate change adaptation, regional economic development, and strategies for sustainable communities. 

In September 2014, the JPC’s ten-year anniversary, the committee decided to undertake an organizational planning and restructuring effort. Due the growing threat of climate change and complexities surrounding economic development in the Bay Area, the JPC understands that close coordination among the four agencies it represents would become increasingly important, and thus, wanted to improve the efficacy of its operations through a focused organizational plan. To facilitate the development of a plan, JPC brought in a CBI practitioner with a record of successful governmental planning efforts in the Bay Area.

The CBI Approach

CBI conducts organizational assessments, convenes agency executives, hosts public workshops, and communicates findings with agency staff to implement a revised JPC organizational and work plan

CBI began work with the JPC in September 2014 to revise the committee’s organizational plan through three phases, concluding in March 2015. In the first phase, CBI conducted an organizational assessment of the JPC and its four partner agencies. To fully understand the dynamics at play, CBI has held multiple in person interviews with the agencies’ executive directors and elected officials who chair each agency’s board. In addition, CBI held brown bag interview sessions at all four partner agencies to further explore the situation and accommodate staff schedules.

Now in the second phase of the project, CBI is facilitating a series of executive retreats with the agency directors. During these sessions, the directors develop a concrete and productive future for the JPC, focusing on the structures that would best support the committee, staff coordination, and optimal funding mechanisms. JPC staff are also developing a work plan for 2015-2016 in concert with the organizational plan to ensure the new structure immediately moves toward implementation. As part of the process, CBI is periodically engaging committee leadership and the public during this phase to incorporate the input on potential future directions for the JPC. 

The third phase will focus on the refinement and communication of the draft organizational plan. CBI will vet the draft plan with the committee of elected officials and key JPC staff at member agencies to ensure it meets the stakeholder needs. After receiving support for the draft, CBI will work with JPC staff to communicate the new organizational plan and 2015 work plan to the staff and boards of all the agencies to help them understand the JPC purpose and plan content. 

Results

CBI successfully kicks of JPC organizational planning by bolstering coordination among Bay Area planning agencies 

While the process is still ongoing, the four agencies have already found value in clarifying JPC roles, responses, and processes; increasing understanding among agency staff and board members; and developing a clear path to articulate the goals, roles, and actions of the JPC. Moreover, the agencies are optimistic about implementing a clear and defined organizational plan to allow them to establish clear funding channels and jointly impact key policy issues to further improve the quality of life for Bay Area residents.

Photo: Wikimedia Creative Commons / Frank Schulenberg