Oakland County Captures National Recognition with 12 Awards

Oakland County has garnered 12 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards for its innovative programs including its Homeland Security response to the historic flooding last August, youth suicide prevention initiative, energy conservation practices, and CySAFE (Cyber Security Assessment For Everyone) initiative.

“Oakland County’s reputation for excellence in government and the commitment of our employees to innovation continue to be worthy of national recognition,” County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “We are grateful to the National Association of Counties for recognizing our leadership.”

The following are the county’s NACo Achievement Awards from the NACo website:

Achievement Award in County Resiliency: Infrastructure, Energy & Sustainability

Successful Energy Conservation Practices in the Real World of Local Government: During the Great Recession, Oakland County established an aggressive program of energy conservation procedures with two goals in mind: becoming a more sustainable county and reducing energy costs. A target was set by County Executive Patterson to cumulatively save $5 million and reduce annual energy consumption 15 percent by 2015. For six years, numerous projects were undertaken and energy conservation policies were implemented. The county achieved its goals and its target, but it took a solid multi-faceted program.

Achievement Awards in Emergency Management and Response

Homeland Security Flood Response Efforts: On Aug. 11, 2014 the southeastern portion of Oakland County received five inches of rain over a short time causing severe flooding, directly impacting 11 communities, hundreds of businesses and thousands of homeowners. Oakland County Executive Patterson declared a State of Emergency. A coordinated effort among Oakland County Homeland Security Division, the Michigan State Police and FEMA resulted in accurate damage assessment reporting and information gathering, culminating in a Presidential Disaster Declaration for the tri-county area of Oakland, Wayne and Macomb. Within two weeks, Homeland Security Division received over 600 phone calls requesting assistance. Oakland County developed an on-line flood report document along with a hotline allowing residents to receive information and leave recorded messages. Oakland County also established two Multi-Agency Resource Centers providing a “one-stop-shop” for residents to ask questions and receive assistance with their recovery efforts.

Homeland Security School Drill Compliance Initiative: With the passage of Michigan House Bill No. 4713, Oakland County Homeland Security Division was faced with the daunting task of recording school drill information for over 500 schools. The legislation required that any schools must complete five fire drills, two tornado drills and three shelter-in-place drills each school year. The scheduled dates were to be submitted to the county emergency management office by Sept. 15. Collecting the scheduled and completed dates of the 10 mandatory drills for over 500 schools amounted to thousands of pieces of information that had to be managed. To efficiently accomplish this task, Oakland County Homeland Security partnered with the county’s Information Technology Department and Health Division to create a “School Drill Reporting” tab on an existing online school reporting portal. This allowed the data to be entered and managed electronically, thus creating a very effective tool for sharing the information with local public safety officials, facilitating compliance and compiling statistical reports.

Achievement Awards in Health

Nurse on Call Program: Recent events have created challenges that necessitated a change in the way that Public Health responded to the needs of the community. The economic downturn created a cohort of uninsured people who now needed access to affordable health services and other services. Widespread flooding in Southeast Michigan in 2014 also demonstrated a need for reliable health information about safety, housing, resources and safe food and water. Disease outbreaks, such as measles, have sparked a need for information for all ages and socioeconomic groups about preventing, recognizing and treating communicable illnesses. In view of these challenges, the Oakland County Nurse on Call Program was marketed to respond to an increased need in the community for assistance. The Nurse on Call Program serves consumers, professionals, schools and businesses by providing health and general information, community resources and referrals. The program’s goal is to provide information that will assist the client to access the services that they need. The program received an average of 17,001 calls per year between 2010 and 2014. The use of a call distribution phone system and the implementation of an online database enable Public Health Nurses who staff the call center to meet the increased need for information by the public due to recent economic and pandemic events.

Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative: In an effort to comprehensively address a recent rise in youth suicides, Oakland County Health Division implemented its Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative. The Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative promotes mental health awareness and stigma reduction, while also providing valuable prevention, intervention and post-vention resources to county residents and public service agencies. This initiative includes convening a task force consisting of partners from multiple community sectors who promote awareness about suicide prevention strategies and train professionals to recognize at-risk behaviors; providing technical assistance and education to key stakeholders; developing a school toolkit that was distributed to 400 middle and high schools staff; producing and distributing 15,000 parent education toolkits; holding two training-based forums; engaging youth involvement; and launching a countywide public awareness campaign that included posters distributed to middle and high schools, social media messaging, public service announcements, and advertising publicizing the local suicide prevention helpline. The accomplishments of the initiative were achieved in a timely and responsive manner and exemplify a framework and protocol for a sustainable, replicable youth suicide prevention model for other communities.

Achievement Awards in Information Technology

Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System Computer Aided Dispatch: Oakland County is committed to enabling as much technology sharing among governments as possible. The county’s philosophy is that government agencies can work together to create a sustainable model for digital government by sharing and leveraging technology for mutual benefit. With this approach, Oakland County helps other governments benefit from technology that may not otherwise be within reach. One example is the County’s CLEMIS CAD, which provides Law Enforcement agencies a complete computer aided dispatch system as easy to use as the Internet. CLEMIS CAD is an internally developed and user driven designed that allows users to create, update, track, and manage all public safety calls for service.

CySAFE – Cyber Security Assessment for Everyone: Highlighted in County Executive Patterson’s 2015 State of the County address, CySAFE is a tool for governments working on assessing, planning, and implementing cybersecurity measures. CySAFE was created by a coalition of representatives from governments in Southeastern Michigan, including the State of Michigan and Oakland, Washtenaw, Monroe, Livingston, and Wayne Counties. CySAFE is adapted from several well-known frameworks – 20 Critical Controls, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cyber Security Framework, and ISO 27001 – in order to get the best of each and apply them to the local government domain. Adapting, rather than creating, standards is a way to take advantage of work that has already been done, build upon a common language for security measures, provide benchmarks for comparison of readiness across organizations, and provide support for needed investments in cybersecurity capabilities. CySAFE allows a government to quickly assess compliance with the various frameworks and identify the most important next steps based on their own current capabilities. The tool includes multiple worksheets to help organizations self-evaluate and understand readiness. CySAFE is a guide that helps governments assess their needs and determine priorities, while providing additional information and resources for moving forward.

Investor Relation Management System: Oakland County’s Investor Relation Management System is a custom-developed technology tool used by the Department of Management & Budget designed to manage, coordinate, and satisfy the periodic continuing disclosure requirements for the entire duration of bonds issued through a private placement agreement. In September 2013, Oakland County issued $350 million in bonds to refund outstanding callable debt that was originally issued in 2007 to fully fund other post-employment benefits (OPEB). The first series consisted of the majority of the total debt issuance to be repaid over 12 years and included some unique continuing disclosures which require Oakland County to directly provide routine information to the debt issuer. The management solution born out of this project is creative yet simple, and was produced using existing technology and staffing resources. It ensures continued knowledge transfer and bond covenant reporting compliance over a 12-year period. This system was instrumental during the past year in retaining the County’s AAA bond rating, as it provided assurance and documentation to the bond rating agencies that the County was proactively managing the disclosure requirements to minimize the risk exposure.

Space Allocation: In June 2014, Oakland County Information Technology (OCIT) and Facilities Management (FM) implemented a GIS based Space Allocation program. The Space Allocation program is used to calculate and manage square footage used for Oakland County departmental billing. The Facilities, Maintenance, and Operation (FMO) division’s entire $26 million dollar budget is funded through Space Allocation Rates. Prior to the new program, calculating the rates and maintaining the space allocation data was very time consuming. For example, simple queries for values such as vacant office space were difficult. By implementing a GIS approach, the time needed to calculate rates was drastically reduced and allows for flexibility with simple reports and analytics.


Achievement Award in Parks and Recreation

Oakland County Market Cooking Demonstrations with Edible WoW: The cooking demonstration series at the Oakland County Market has proven to be a recipe for success. Twice a month some of the area’s best chefs use produce available at the Oakland County Market to demonstrate a variety of delicious, easy recipes that participants can replicate at home. The program, a partnership between Edible WoW magazine and Oakland County Parks, has been very well received since it began in January 2015 and it has continued to grow. It has attracted more people to the market in the winter months when the selection of fresh Michigan produce can be limited and the market is open one day a week before extending to three days a week May-December. The cooking demonstration series is also a great way to introduce people to a wider variety of produce as free samples are distributed during the event. In March, a local potato grower and vendor at the Oakland County Market hosted the Great Potato Giveaway by distributing 500 free 10 lb. bags of potatoes at the market. That afternoon, Chef Jeremy Grandon from Yard Bird restaurant show how potatoes can be used in various recipes.


Achievement Award in Personnel Management, Employee Training and Employee Benefits

Fitness Unleashed: Oakland County’s wellness program (OakFit) strives to promote the health benefits of physical activity and create behavior-changing programs that support physically active lifestyles. Oakland County’s wellness program is highlighting a no cost wellness initiative that offers a way to engage employees in physical activity and socialize dogs housed at the local Pet Adoption Agency (Animal Control). OakFit and The Oakland Pet Adoption Center implemented a unique program that combined internal resources to help meet their long term goals.


Achievement award in County Administration & Management:

Oakland County Discounted Fee Policy for Vital Records: In 2014, the Oakland County Clerk’s Office began a program to reduce or waive fees to obtain vital records for residents facing financial hardship or other crises. To qualify, a resident must only present a letter from a participating agency that states the individual is facing hardship. Each participating agency must be registered with the Clerk’s Office. The streamlined and easy to navigate process is the first of its kind at the county level in the State of Michigan.


About NACO’s Achievement Award Program

Begun in 1970, the annual Achievement Award Program is a non-competitive awards program that recognizes innovative county government initiatives. Awards are given in 21 different categories including children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, county resiliency, information technology, health and many more. Over 120 counties and organizations won awards in 2015. For more information, go to www.NACo.org.

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

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