In a discussion of issues, a “straw man” is a point or an issue that is raised by one side to distract the people from the real issue. In response to my appeal for a greater transparency and accountability in the dispersing of city money (see my letter to the editor November 2), Bobby Baird, in a letter published November 5, raised several issues that were not connected in any way to anything I wrote. The issues he raised were straw men intended to distract the conversation from the issues I raised.
The point I am raising is this: we can have greater transparency and accountability in the dispersing of city money by means of contracting for deliverables. When funds are dispersed using a contract for deliverables, there is an agreement between the funder and the end-user as to how and on what the money will be spent. This agreement in writing is important to the process because it yields needed information and builds a cooperative atmosphere between the funder and the recipient. Here are the potential advantages:
1. A contract for deliverables protects the interests of the taxpayers. It creates a high level of transparency and accountability for the money committed. Taxpayer money is a trust that has been given to the Council. The taxpayers are entitled to a full understanding of where their money is going and a full accounting of how it was spent and what they gained from it.
2. A contract for deliverables increases communication and build trust. It gives both the city and the recipient the opportunity to work together in a partnership that shapes both expectations and outcomes. It reduces friction and builds a trust-based partnership.
3. A contract for deliverables guides implementation and allows for appropriate flexibility. It creates milestones and waypoints that guide the spend-down of funds. It creates opportunities along the way to make adjustments based upon objective data. Such guidelines, milestones, waypoints and data-driven flexibility are in the best interest of the taxpayers.
4. A contract for deliverables guides future funding decisions toward greater efficiency and effectiveness. It allows for evaluation of spending and outcomes. It helps to identify the greatest opportunities and the best strategies to capitalize on those opportunities, maximizing the use of taxpayer money.
These are the reasons every level of government and virtually every grant funding entity uses some form of a contract for deliverables. They maximize the impact of every dollar. This level of transparency and accountability is required of all city departments in budgeting and spending. There is no good reason to expect less from outside organizations receiving city dollars.
In response to Bobby’s letter, I am not opposing or attacking the work of any organization. I am not against workforce development. I am for progress and a better business environment. Now that those straw men have been knocked down, we can focus on the issues I am raising.