Donald Long of Spartanburg, SC provides management assistance to elected and appointed officials in areas ranging from human resources to operational efficiency. In the following article, Donald Long of Spartanburg discusses the ins and outs of local government management consulting. Additional contributions to this article came from Dr. Long’s partner at a Management Consulting Firm, Carolyn Long of Spartanburg, SC.
Local government management consultants are professionals who provide a variety of services to municipalities, including advice on how to improve the efficiency of operations, reduce costs, create plans and budgets, as well as provide guidance on the best practices for municipal operations. Donald Long of Spartanburg explains that many municipalities hire consultants on a project-by-project basis but some keep a team of consultants on hand at all times.
Donald Long says that working as a consultant in this type of engagement requires someone to have a keen understanding of the inner workings of municipal operations and the ability to offer recommendations that are both realistic and achievable. Let’s take a closer look at some of the day-to-day work that consultants do and explore what makes a consultant effective.
What Do Local Government Management Consultants Do?
Carolyn Long of Spartanburg, SC notes that many municipalities hire these professionals to help them with specific projects, such as developing a new budget or implementing a new financial management system. Local government management consultants can also provide advice on how to improve the delivery of public services and make municipal operations more efficient.
Over the course of their consultancy, most consultants working in this capacity go through a process of:
- Reviewing current projects to identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement
Going through existing budgets and eliminating unnecessary expenses
- Making recommendations on how to change or improve processes
- Developing action plans to implement these changes
- Providing guidance and support during the implementation process
- Monitoring and evaluating results once changes have been implemented
Once they have completed their contract, Carolyn Long of Spartanburg, SC says freelance consultants are then available to take up new work with other municipalities.
Do Most Consultants Work Freelance or With Agencies?
Donald Long of Spartanburg, SC says that most municipalities hire local government management consultants on a project-by-project basis, i.e. as freelance consultants. However, some municipalities have full-time or part-time consultants on staff. In addition, some municipalities contract with private firms to provide local government management consulting services.
Local government management consultants usually have at least a bachelor’s degree in public administration or a related field. Many consultants also have experience working in the public sector, either in a municipal government or in a state or federal agency. In addition, most local government management consultants are certified public accountants (CPAs), while some are also certified in project management (PMP).
This background and foundation of knowledge give local government management consultants the skills they need to help municipalities improve their operations. Donald Long of Spartanburg, SC explains that when they are not working as consultants, they may also work elsewhere as accountants or managers on a freelance basis.
What Makes a Local Government Management Consultant Effective?
According to Carolyn Long of Spartanburg, SC local government management consultants need to have a deep understanding of how municipal operations work in order to be effective. They must also be able to see the big picture and offer recommendations that are both realistic and achievable.
Here are some additional qualities that make for an effective local government management consultant:
- Excellent communication skills: professionals brought in to aid local governments and similar organizations must be able to clearly explain their findings and recommendations to municipal officials, who may not have the same level of technical expertise.
- Excellent writing skills: In addition to oral communication, consultants must also be able to clearly articulate their ideas in writing, in the form of reports or presentations.
- Analytical skills: Local government management consultants need to be able to quickly understand complex problems and identify potential solutions.
- Organizational skills: consultants in these types of engagements must be able to keep track of multiple projects and deadlines.
- Problem-solving skills: In many cases, consultants are hired to help solve specific problems. Therefore, they need to be creative and resourceful in their approach to problem-solving.
- Interpersonal skills: consultants working in this capacity need to be able to build relationships and work effectively with a range of municipal staff, from elected officials to department heads.
Overall, though, Carolyn Long of Spartanburg, SC says the most successful consultants assisting local government officials are those who have a deep understanding of the unique challenges that municipalities face and who are also able to offer creative solutions that are tailored to the specific needs of each individual community.
What do Municipalities Pay for these Engagements?
Donald Long of Spartanburg, SC reports that payment to local government management consultants is going to vary greatly with skill level, experience, and the type of engagement. Often on job boards you will see an hourly rate between $75 and $100, although some may also charge a flat fee for their services. In addition, most consultants require a retainer, which is an upfront fee that is paid in order to secure their services.
Rates may vary depending on the consultant’s experience and the scope of the project according to Donald Long of Spartanburg, SC, and usually include charge for expenses, such as travel and accommodation costs, if necessary.
The Bottom Line
Dr. Donald Long and Carolyn Long of Spartanburg, SC both note that local government management consultants provide a variety of services to improve the operations or a municipality—whether that be by cutting costs, reducing inefficiencies, or developing better plans of action to complete municipal projects. Most consultants work on a freelance basis and may have their own business as an accountant or project manager on the side.