Strategic planning is an ongoing process, not a one time event. Through this process the guiding members of an organization envision its future and develop the procedures and operations necessary to achieve that future. The strategic planning process provides an opportunity for the Commissioners to communicate their ideas, values and concerns to one another, to their staff and to their customers and stakeholders. The 1998 Georgia Public Service Commission Strategic Plan addresses the regulation of the telecommunications, electric, natural gas and transportation industries, as well as internal operations and external relations.
1998 Strategic Planning Process at the Georgia PSC
The PSCs 1998 Strategic Plan is a continuation of last years plan. In 1997 the Georgia Public Service Commission adopted its first Strategic Plan, after several years of planning activities. In 1993 SB 335 required that state agencies engage in strategic planning and produce a strategic plan consistent with the states strategic plan. As part of this initiative to improve state government, top staff at the Commission attended training and strategic planning meetings. Strategic planning teams were instituted as an integral part of agency operations. In late 1996 and early 1997 a series of studies and planning sessions were conducted to develop the PSCs first strategic plan in July 1997. The 1997 planning process proved effective and, thus, was repeated to prepare the 1998 PSC Strategic Plan.
strategic planning teams
Based on the PSCs critical success factors, seven strategic planning teams were initially established. These have evolved into the eight teams currently in use. Most of these are integrated into the day-to-day work process at the Georgia PSC. Others are used as needed to address relevant concerns. The strategic planning teams focus on the following topics:
Administrative Standard Procedures
The Telecommunications, Natural Gas and Electric Teams meet each month to assess progress on all cases affecting the respective industries. The Utilities Division finds the team approach invaluable in ensuring that cases are processed effectively and that issues affecting multiple cases are identified and addressed consistently. The Budgeting Team coordinates the preparation of both the results-based budgeting measures and the annual zero-based budget. The Transportation Division established a Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) Planning Team to facilitate the preparation of the annual MCSAP grant for federal funding and to monitor progress made by the project teams responsible for carrying out the planned objectives. The Information Technology Team meets as necessary to coordinate planning, purchasing and implementing computer-related resources. Recently, the PSC formed the Administrative Standard Procedures Team to identify, evaluate and improve the administrative procedures employed by the agency. The Communications Team is being reactivated to coordinate consumer education and public information needs that are escalating with the introduction of competition in the regulated industries.
A variety of benefits have been achieved by incorporating these teams into the daily operations of the agency. Planning is no longer an annual event, but rather an integral part of the PSCs ongoing processes. Staff members have eliminated duplicative work identified during the cross-divisional team meetings. And, most importantly, increased involvement of staff has had a positive impact on teamwork and morale.
Commissioner and Staff Planning Retreat
In December 1997 top-level staff members attended a two-day strategic planning retreat. The Commissioners joined the group for a half-day session to exchange ideas with the staff. The dual focus of this retreat was to develop team-building skills and to perform a situational analysis of the PSC. A series of facilitated team-building exercises were used to develop a more cohesive management team. Because of the diverse range of regulatory responsibilities at the PSC, not all of the agencys managers and supervisors have had an opportunity to work closely with one another on a regular basis. The retreat gave them this opportunity. The participants initially worked in small groups to identify the PSCs strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. They then worked as a single PSC team to combine and summarize their findings and made conclusions about the future of the agency.
Strategic Planning Sessions
Throughout FY98 the strategic planning teams of the PSC met to implement the projects needed to achieve the objectives identified. At the conclusion of each quarter status reports were prepared to monitor the progress being made in achieving the strategic objectives in the 1997 Strategic Plan. During June and July 1998 PSC staff members attended a series of planning meetings held by the Office of Planning and Budgeting. These meetings focused on the States strategic priorities and the development of performance measures. In July and August of 1998 strategic planning sessions were held to evaluate progress on the 1997 strategic objectives and to develop the 1998 plan. Each division met individually to identify changes to the 1997 strategic plan. In mid-August participants from all divisions met to evaluate the plan as a whole. The 1998 Strategic Plan was then refined, finalized and adopted by the Commissioners thereafter.