Metrics and accountability in government

Published 6:51 am Wednesday, March 13, 2019

By J. David Derosier

In an earlier career, I was a Worldwide Manager of Product Managers, with project and program managers spread across three continents, for the second largest computer company in the world; second only to IBM. In that role, I also served as a member of the Program Review Board for the custom and low-volume product line.

Key elements used in reviewing these programs were always metrics set at the beginning of the project and adjusted as needed. These program objectives also had to be in-synch with the product line and corporate goals. Metrics set goals and track progress. The only sure way to track progress is to track it against the goals set up front.

A conference paper presented at 2011 Global Congress of the Project Management Institute by Wilson and Schwartz (authors) put it extremely well:

“Project financial management goes well beyond simply planning, capturing, and managing costs on individual projects. It must also address the customer’s need to maintain a balance between the project investment and the expected benefits or returns associated with that project, the potential impact on other projects in the portfolio, and the overall impact on their business results.”

On March 6, Orange County Judge Dean Crooks wrote a long opinion piece that was published by our radio station and two newspapers. This past week much of our local news has been about how wrong he was, and that he was anti-growth.

 Headlines in our local news outlets this weekend included: KOGT – “GOTHIA, HILL QUICK TO DISCREDIT JUDGE” (John Gothia is a County Commissioner, Jessica Hill is the head of the OC Economic Development Corp.) and ORANGE LEADER – “Abatements hot topic after County Judge speaks against it” Front Page, first article. I’m not sure what will be in the County Record newspaper, they publish about the same time as this edition of the Orange Leader that you are reading.

In the same weekend edition of the Orange Leader, the publisher said that “a contingent within our community seems bent on sidetracking economic development”, apparently referring to Judge Crooks’ published opinion piece.

At the end of his paper, Judge Crooks summarized his thoughts in two statements, abstracted below:

I am not against incentives and/or abatements for businesses or deals if:

  • The deal is clearly and contractually going to benefit Orange County and its residents.
  • The deal is reasonable in time as well as money.
  • The deal reflects the actual money accurately.
  • What is invested is not considerably more than what we would be able to tax, if there was no abatement.
  • The deal will be actively enforceable and enforced.

I am not against having an Economic Development Corporation I simply believe:

  • We should not put into it more than we can afford.
  • The dues paid by the members should be proportional (6 cities plus the county).
  • County Commissioners that are also members of the OCEDC board should recuse themselves from votes regarding the funding of the OCEDC.
  •   It should be financially transparent.
  • As long as it receives tax dollars, every dollar should be accountable by simply pulling it off the website by any citizen.
  • It should have clear and specific goals that are reviewed and reported on regularly to the general public.


So many voices seem to be saying that Judge Crooks is against incentives and/or abatements and that he is against the EDC itself. In reading his text, I find at least seven times that he either says positive things about them or specifically states that he is not opposed to them.

I am not trying to pass judgments on either of these two issues (incentives or the EDC). I do not know if the EDC creates and maintains metrics to which they are accountable. I do, however, believe that all business and government can and should be judged by metrics against which they can be held accountable.

It disturbs me that so many are jumping to conclusions which appear contrary to the two summary statements in Judge Crooks’ letter.

I came away from reading his paper with the thoughts of having both incentive projects and the EDC accountable to metrics that can be set up front. Sounds good to me. I believe that all public officials and organizations, at every level, operate better with metrics and accountability.

In the same weekend edition of the Orange Leader mentioned above, the publisher wrote that the Texas House and Senate have bills seeking legislation which would make it easier for taxpayers to get details on how tax dollars are spent. From what the publisher says, it seems like there are members of the Texas Legislature that think the same way about metrics, accountability, and transparency.

 We should not be trying to stifle people from asking questions or criticizing our government. Instead, we should recognize that if questions are asked, they should be addressed, not attacked or discredited for having posed the questions. Am I the only one who thinks this way?


J. David Derosier consults with small business on planning and marketing issues, and provides web design and hosting services through, an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau that is rated A+ by BBB. He can be reached at