Auditor’s skinnyOhio.org is a Go-To Resource for Shared Services

Written for the Ohio Association of School Business Officials

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

School districts that face rising expenditures and declining tax collections can benefit now more than ever from shared services, and many of them are engaging in these partnerships.

Reynoldsburg City Schools, for example, partnered with Columbus State Community College to offer more class choice. Districts in Mahoning and Columbiana counties are sharing IT services. Schools in Medina and Cloverleaf are sharing a treasurer.

When the Governor’s office surveyed all Ohio governments about shared services, nearly every school district responded: 598 of 614 of them. School districts have been leaders for many years in sharing the costs of operations, administration, technology and education support services.

One of the first acts taken by Auditor of State Dave Yost upon assuming office was to establish the website skinnyOhio.org. The site highlights cost-saving recommendations from performance audits around the state and serves as an easily accessible resource for any Ohio government or taxpayer to find good ideas, practical opportunities for savings and methods of establishing shared services agreements.

Visitors to skinnyOhio.org will find not only news articles about school districts and governments throughout the state establishing shared services arrangements, but references to other state and local agencies that are involved in shared services as well. Examples include the Department of Administrative Services purchasing consortium and the Governor’s BeyondBoundaries.Ohio.gov site.

SkinnyOhio.org also collects actual templates and sample agreements, laws and other information that anyone interested in sharing services will find useful. The Auditor of State’s office maintains a Shared Services Idea Center at OhioAuditor.gov, containing information about other examples of shared services around Ohio, such as transportation, facility management, maintenance, purchasing, insurance, and many other categories of government cost.

Another important resource on the skinnyOhio.org site is information about Ohio’s Local Government Innovation Fund, which offers financial support to study and implement shared services at local governments and school districts. Round one awards included grants of $100,000 to the Barnesville Exempted School District; Lorain, Mahoning and Shelby county schools and ESCs; and Akron, Chillicothe and Medina city schools. The grants will support studies involving transportation, administration, safety resource sharing and other efficiency improvements.

Governments at all levels are driven by both necessity and by principles of good management to find ways to lower costs and improve services, school districts included. Sharing services is among the most promising ways to provide better government value to Ohio taxpayers.

For more information about shared services or to add your shared services examples and information to skinnyOhio.org, contact the Auditor of State’s office at AOS_performance@ohioauditor.gov.