Strategic Partnership between JJ, UNC School of Government Solves Problems

Author: Jerry Higgins, Communications Officer

Partnerships between agencies are important in state government. Problems at one agency may be easily solved by another if there was a way to bring everyone together. The Office of Strategic Partnerships, through the Office of State Budget and Management, works to increase and enhance partnerships between state government and North Carolina's research universities and philanthropic sector.

Juvenile Justice, Community Programs Section found themselves needing one of those “connections.” The Community Programs team needed assistance with a 40-year-old formula that annually recovers unspent state Juvenile Crime Prevention Committee (JCPC) dollars for community-based delinquency prevention and intervention services. The formula and percentage breakdowns of allocations and county matches has always been dependable, but figuring out how to adapt the formula to account for JCPC funds requiring match and those that didn’t require match that were all distributed within the 19-20 fiscal year posed a unique challenge. The complexities of an Excel spreadsheet to calculate a formula-fix for the 2019-20 allocation of initial funding released to counties combined with funding later in the year that had no match requirement had the potential to confuse even the best expert.

Through the connection provided by the Office of Strategic Partnerships, Community Programs Director Cindy Porterfield and Area Consultant Nancy Hodges were able to connect with Dale Roenigk of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government. Roenigk is director of the NC Benchmarking Project, an effort between the School of Government and the NC Local Government Budget Association, which provides a comparative basis for local governments to assess service delivery and costs. 

Roenigk was enlisted to assist Juvenile Justice in accurately calculating a formula-fix for this one year. According to Hodges, the end result started with the following principle:
State Agency Need + Expert UNC SOG Assistance = Enormous Time and $$ savings to the state

“The time-tested formula requires that if a program does not use all the state dollars allotted as budgeted, or provide adequate match, the state funds have to be paid back,” Hodges said. “Dale worked with the Community Programs team on a modified formula to verify that it would do what it’s supposed to do for this one year.”

Roenigk’s Excel expertise provided insight to develop a process flow quickly and accurately for the formula, ensuring the formula would work as intended without messing up something else. He also provided input on the match requirement going forward, and assisted with county data tables that could be easily programmed to enable toggling between county data tables by simply changing the county name. According to Hodges, this probably saved several days of work converting data and saving it by county.

Community Programs leadership has worked with Strategic Partnerships Policy Analyst Eliza Edwards and Jenni Owen, the director of Strategic Partnerships. Juvenile Justice also has an ongoing relationship with Jacqui Greene, assistant professor of Public Law and Government at UNC School of Government who has been an ongoing partner with Juvenile Justice relative to Raise the Age and other Juvenile Justice issues.

“Dale has been exceeding helpful,” Hodges said. “I hope this formula modification is a one-and-done, which would be a good thing.” But it’s clear, the ongoing relationship with the folks at School of Government will continue to be highly valued.
Hodges said she is a big fan of the Office of Strategic Partnerships.

“The Office of Strategic Partnerships can provide quick connections to what is needed now,” she said. “Juvenile Justice has long been a supporter of the School of Government and their help with Raise the Age. We also have excellent and longstanding partnerships with universities and community colleges. We’re excited to be a part of it.”