Municipal Governance

Research has shown that a community's attractiveness to residents is heavily influenced by the quality of its local government.  In order to create a positive sense of place – one that will help a community to attract and retain talent – cities and towns must adopt a model of governance that not only provides efficient and effective public services, but also promotes democratic responsiveness and accountability. 

These best practice resources are organized by six key practices identified by Ball State’s Municipal Governance Knowledge Group:    
  • Citizen and Community Engagement to effectively involve citizens and other community stakeholders in determining the community’s desired identity and setting goals required to achieve that identity;     
  • Strategic Planning to facilitate the pursuit of those goals through measurable objectives and well-defined action plans;   
  • Strategic Management to ensure that budgeting and operational decisions support the goals and objectives of the strategic plan;     
  • Performance Measurement and Improvement to evaluate the community’s progress toward achieving its goals and to use those measures for continual improvement of its services;     
  • High Performance Human Resource Development and Management to cultivate and utilize human capital to provide efficient and effective public services; and  
  • Community Collaboration to join forces with other institutions and organizations within the community.

If you have any questions, please contact Suzie Jones, member of the Municipal Governance Knowledge Group


Title Summary 
Municipal Government: Six Key Practices
Ball State University
The Primacy of Place Municipal Governance Knowledge Group recommends a model of governance in which local government officials engage in six key practices.
Legislating-for-Results Municipal Action Guides
Urban Institute and National League of Cities
A series of 10 guides to assist local officials to gather and use performance data to improve local government services. 
Outcome Management for Nonprofit Organizations
Urban Institute
A detailed set of six guides to assist organizations in measuring program outcomes and using that outcome information to demonstrate program value and improve services. Written for nonprofit organizations, local government officials will find the guides useful, particularly in departments delivering human service programs.
Principles of Local Government Public Engagement
Institute for Local Government (California)
A very brief (two-page) tip sheet outlining ten principles for effective and ethical public engagement by local government officials. 
What is Public Engagement?
Institute for Local Government (California)
A set of definitions describing different approaches to public engagement. 
A Local Official’s Guide to Public Engagement in Budgeting
Institute for Local Government (California)
A guide to six approaches for engaging citizens in the budget process:  education and outreach, surveys, advisory committees, workshops, deliberative forums, and relationships with neighborhood councils. Presents several case studies describing the successful use of these approaches in California. 
A Local Official’s Guide to Working with Clergy and Congregations
Institute for Local Government (California)
A guide to methods to develop working relationships with clergy and congregations to increase public engagement, enhance outreach and improve public services. Presents case studies illustrating the successful use of these techniques in California. 
A Local Official’s Guide to Immigrant Civic Engagement
Institute for Local Government (California)
Growing immigrant populations present both challenges and opportunities. This guide provides examples and suggestions to help leaders keep immigrant communities informed and engaged in addressing community issues. 
Planning Public Forums: Questions to Guide Local Officials
Institute for Local Government (California)
This guide provides practical steps to help local agencies use public forums effectively.
Getting the Most Out of Public Hearings: Ideas to Improve Public Involvement
Institute for Local Government (California)
This guide provides a number of suggestions to increase participation, encourage civil participation, and get more useful feedback from public hearings. 
Community Visioning and Strategic Planning Handbook
Civic Practices Network and National Civic League
A comprehensive, step-by-step guide to the community visioning process.
Measuring the Success of Local Public Engagement
Institute for Local Government (California)
A brief tip sheet with suggestions for measuring the success of your public engagement efforts. 
Measuring Customer Satisfaction
King County, Washington
A detailed, but easy to use guide to measuring customer satisfaction with municipal services. 
Beyond Citizen Engagement: Involving the Public in Co-Delivering Government Services
IBM Center for the Business of Government
This guide describes initiatives for expanding citizen engagement by involving citizens in the design, production, and delivery of public services. 
Engaging a Multi-Generational Workforce: Practical Advice for Government Managers
IBM Center for the Business of Government
For the first time in history, four generations are in the workforce at one time. This report describes the different approaches necessary  for engaging workers of each generation for maximum effectiveness. 
A County Manager’s Guide to Shared Services in Local Government
IBM Center for the Business of Government
A guide to successfully planning and implementing shared services. Includes case studies. 
Get Results Through Performance Management: An Open Memorandum to State and Local Government Executives
Government Innovators Network and Kennedy School of Government
A brief, practical guide for state and local government managers to implement performance management in their organizations. 
Working Better Together: A Practical Guide to Help Unions, Elected Officials and Managers Improve Public Services
Government Innovators Network and Kennedy School of Government
A guide to engaging labor in cooperative efforts to improve public services. 
The Public Innovator's Playbook: Nurturing Bold Ideas in Government
Deloitte Research, Government Innovators Network, and Kennedy School of Government
A guide to innovation techniques for improving public services. 
Public Service, Public Savings: Case Studies in Labor-Management Initiatives in the Public Sector
Government Innovators Network and Kennedy School of Government
Case studies in successful public sector labor-management collaboration efforts. 
Sustaining Public Engagement: Embedded Deliberation in Local Communities
Government Innovators Network and Kennedy School of Government
Based on findings from case studies of public deliberation in nine communities, this report outlines the practices and conditions necessary for successful public deliberation leading to community change. 
Making Public Sector Mergers Work
IBM Center for the Business of Government
This report reviews several case studies of department mergers at the state and local level. The information obtained from this review is used to provide guidance to policy makers on how to analyze proposed mergers and to provide advice to on responding to the challenges associated with implementing mergers. 
Getting Things Done Together: A Workbook for Achieving Regional Goals
National League of Cities
This workbook provides a step-by-step framework for local government officials, business, nonprofit, and other community leaders to work together to address regional issues or problems that none can solve on their own. 
Bright Spots in Community Engagement
National League of Cities
Drawing on lessons learned from four cases studies of community engagement, this report provides a set of practices and techniques for engaging individuals, organizations, and institutions in solving community problems.  
Beyond Civility: From Public Engagement to Problem Solving
National League of Cities
This brief guide outlines seven principles for bringing more civility, trust, and common cause to public discussions.
When Governments Listen: Moving Toward Publicly Engaged Governing
Fund for the City of New York
This freely downloadable book summarizes the lessons learned from the Government Trailblazer Program, an effort by municipal and county governments to introduce publicly-informed performance measures and reports into their practices. 
Listening to the Public:  Adding the Voices of the People to Government Performance Measurement and Reporting 
Fund for the City of New York
This freely downloadable book provides specific practical advice for improving performance measurement efforts by engaging the public. 
TIPS for Conducting FOCUS GROUPS to Develop Government Performance Measures and Reports
Fund for the City of New York
A step-by-step guide for utilizing citizen focus groups to produce performance measures and performance reports serving the public's needs. 
TIPS for Conducting CITIZEN SURVEYS to Develop Government Performance Measures and  Reports
Fund for the City of New York
A step-by-step guide for utilizing citizen surveys to produce performance measures and performance reports serving the public's needs. 
National Civic Review Special Issue: Engaging the Public in Local Government Performance Measurement and Reporting
Fund for the City of New York
This special issue of National Civic Review contains several articles regarding citizen-informed performance-measurement. 
Making the Most of Social Media: 7 Lessons from Successful Cities
Fels Institute of Government University of Pennsylvania
This report distills information gleaned from survey research and practioner interviews to provide a guide for successfully utilizing social media in local government. 
Solving the Skills Crisis:  Promising Practices for Talent Pipeline Development
Fels Institute of Government University of Pennsylvania
The workforce development practices described in this brief are proven to increase employee retention and productivity in many different employment sectors. 
The Rise of Social Government: An Advanced Guide and Review of Social Media's Role in Local Government Operations
Fels Institute of Government University of Pennsylvania
An extensive and comprehensive guide to social media use in local government. 
Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guide to Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement, 4th Edition
John M. Bryson; Published by Jossey-Bass
A comprehensive guide to strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations. 
Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity
Mario Morino; Published by Venture Philanthropy Partners
Not just a free book, but an entire suite of materials to help organizations focus on performance by managing to outcomes. Although written with nonprofit organizations in mind, the lessons and techniques are readily adaptable to public agencies. 
Working Hard and Working Well: A Practical Guide to Performance Management
David E. K. Hunter; Published by Hunter Consulting, LLC
A "sleeves-rolled-up companion to Leap of Reason." This free book provides a hands-on guide to understanding, developing, and implementing performance management systems. 
Indiana Certified Public Manager ® Program
Bowen Center for Public Affairs, Ball State University
The Indiana Certified Public Manager (CPM) Program is a rigorous and comprehensive course of study that provides public managers with tools and techniques to adopt an outcome-based perspective on managerial responsibilities, measure and monitor individual and organizational performance, and develop and enhance interpersonal skills. 
The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First
Jeffrey Pfeffer; Published by Harvard Business Press
Renowned management professor Jeffrey Pfeffer provides a practical overview of how to implement a high performance human resource management system. 
Municipal Benchmarks: Assessing Local Performance and Establishing Community Standards, Third Edition
David Ammons; Published by M.E. Sharpe
A comprehensive guide to measuring performance of municipal services. Includes benchmarks and professional standards for numerous services.

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Charles Taylor 

Charles Taylor

Knowledge Group Fellow
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Department of Political Science 
Ian Nicolini

Ian Nicolini

IMMA President-Elect and Town Manager
Cedar  Lake
Grant A. Kleinhenz

Grant A. Kleinhenz

IMMA Vice President and Town Manager
Joseph Roberts

Joseph Roberts

Information Services Librarian
University Libraries
Suzie Jones

Suzie Jones

Project Coordinator
Building Better Communities
Rose Wright

Rose Wright

Project Financial Specialist
Building Better Communities

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