Example: County Decision Making Process

Intent: Provide a framework that will support analysis and decision-making regarding the development of policies, ordinances, projects.


  • Name. Proposed Change (policy, process, ordinance, resolution, et al.).
  • Document the Problem Statement. A problem statement is a short description of the issues that need to be addressed by a problem-solving team and should be presented to them (or created by them) before they try to resolve a problem.
  •  Identify the Purpose:
    • What is the reason for the change?
    • What is the ideal/desired end state?
    • How will you know that change will result in improvement?
    • What are the criteria for determining the best solution (s)? Cost, safety, compliance, etc.?
  • Review Benchmarks. Have other organizations or counties faced a similar problem?  Did they successfully address the issue (s)?  If so, how?
  • Coordinate with Stakeholders. Identify the stakeholders that will be affected by the change. In addition to elected leaders, this can include members of other boards and commissions, private sector groups, citizens, etc.
    • Who are the stakeholders that participated in the proposed change? Did they concur with the proposed changes? Is this information documented?
  • Identify References. Includes identification of any statutes, ordinances, et.al., that need to be considered when proposing a new change.
  • Identify the Facts. A fact is an event, item of information, or state of affairs existing, observed, or known to have happened, and which is confirmed or validated to such an extent that it is considered ‘reality.’
  • Collect Data. Data are facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis.
  • Identify Assumptions (nonfacts). An assumption is a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof. Terms associated with an assumption include the following:
    • Speculation. Ideas or guesses about something that is not known.
    • Conjecture. Inference formed without proof or sufficient evidence.
    • Opinion. A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.
    • Anecdotal. Not necessarily true or reliable; based on personal accounts rather than facts or research.
    • Hope. A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
  • Identify Constraints. A constraint is a limitation or restriction. This would include resources and any enforcement related issues, e.g., you include a requirement in an ordinance that the county judge and prosecutor cannot or will not support.
    • In the case of the Salt Creek Trail project, the county’s decision not to invoke eminent domain would be a constraint.  If this was communicated to the  State, the State may have opted out of the project because it would have likely increased the cost of land acquisition.
  • Identify Risks.  “An uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on a project’s objectives.”  A probability of occurrence (0-100%) and effect (high, medium, low) can also be associated with a respective risk.  A mitigation strategy can also be identified.
  • Propose Alternative Solutions. Identifying up to three options is helpful. Options can identify the respective scope.  The higher degree of change (scope), the higher the cost and risk of problems.  For example, updating an ordinance due to a change in state law would be an incremental change (smaller scope).
    • A significant change that includes policies that exceed state standards would require extensive analysis and coordination to justify the change and to ensure that the solution does not create more problems than it solves.
  • Analyze Alternatives. What are the Pros and Cons of each proposed option?  These should be developed with stakeholder groups.
  • Compare Alternatives. The alternatives can be assigned a weight and compared to the defined criteria included in the purpose statement.
  • Identify the Recommended Solution (s), Make a Decision.
  • Develop the Plan of Action and Milestones (POAM) for Implementing the Recommendation.  Incorporate the Improvement Cycle for Learning and Development:
    • PLAN a change or test aimed at improvement
    • DO. Carry out the change, preferably on a small scale
    • STUDY (Check). Examine the results. What did we learn? What went wrong?
    • ACT. Adopt the change, abandon it or run through the cycle again
  • Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK). Guidelines – PDCA aligned with recommended actions. pmbok_pdca
  • Plan for a Follow-Up Assessment.  Review the new change on a periodic basis.
  • What was suppose to happen?  What actually happened?  What additional improvements are needed?

Example:   The Decision Making Process that was going to be applied in support of the Maple Leaf Project to ensure due diligence. It was shared and rejected by the commissioners and council.17_08 v10a RDC Project Analysis and Review Working Draft

Maple Leaf Fast-Track Process. – The process that was used to avoid a thorough analysis and circumvent the required due diligence.