Friday, March 02, 2012

Effectiveness & Efficiency

One of the questions of the nomination for the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Gold Metal was one that got to the effectiveness and efficency of your agency. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is one of the most entreprenurial park agencies in the nation generating 83% of its operating revenues through enterprise operations.

Effectiveness = do the actions meet the needs?

NVRPA contracted with Leisure Vision ETC to survey the public on a wide range of park and recreation issues. 71% of households had used parks in the last year, and 93% of those had a good/excellent experience. More importantly to NVRPA as a Regional Park District is that walking/biking trails, large regional parks, historic sites and nature areas and centers were four of the top five community priorities. These are all areas where NVRPA plays a leadership role in the region. The alignment of top public needs and NVRPA’s offerings are a measure of effectiveness in meeting the public’s needs.

Efficiency = are the actions being done well?

NVRPA is one of the most efficient park agencies in the nation. In 2007, the Better Government Competition presented to NVRPA an award for “Entrepreneurial Service Delivery.” From actual 2005 to budget 2013, the level of revenue recovery (self funding) has gone from 80 – 83%. In that same time period, NVRPA salaries as a percentage of operating costs have gone from 54.9 – 49.2%. These are both critical measures of efficiency.

One of the secrets of NVRPA’s success is an organizational culture that embraces innovation and constant improvement. As a result of this, continual evaluation and improvement are built into many segments of the operations. Management committees for golf courses and water parks meet regularly to share best practices in those fields. After major seasonal events like the fall corn maze at Temple Hall Farm Park and the winter holiday light show at Bull Run Regional Park, there is an after action review to evaluate every element of the operations and come up with areas of improvement for the following year. This year, the staff responsible for the light show toured similar light show operations run by the Charleston County Park District in South Carolina to share information with the intent of improving both shows through best practices.

An example of a few of the planned improvments to the light show that came from this year's review and vist to Charleston include:

• To improve the efficiency of the show setup process from a staff training standpoint, we will designate the major aspects of setup to the same group of staff or same park each year.

• Addition of a Family Fun Walk/Run as a soft opening and preview to the show

• Reconfigure Santa’s Village so it is more visible and noticeable to encourage more participation (i.e set up the Village so people have to walk through to get to the carnival or incorporate the Village and the carnival areas together).

The efficiency of operations is communicated to the public by featuring these themes prominently in NVRPA’s budget documents and posts focusing on efficiency on the Executive Director’s blo

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