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January 21, 2011

OCTA CEO: Strategic Thinking in 2011

by Will Kempton

The Christmas lights are put away, the champagne toasts are history, and hopefully, a few weeks into January, most of us are standing strong and sticking to our resolutions for the new year.

Thankfully, one of the most financially challenging years in the recent past is now in our rearview mirror. At Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), we are planning for 2011 to be a year in which we sharpen our vision for the future and set into motion a strategic plan that will aid our efforts to deliver transportation projects and programs.

Like transit agencies around the state and nation, we were not immune to the impacts that came with shrinking revenues, lagging ridership and cuts in funding. By acting quickly and making the difficult but necessary decisions to bring transit service and the size of our organization in line with our funding, OCTA was able to successfully manage through the recession.

We do have a number of positive accomplishments on the horizon, including the closeout of the 20-year Measure M program, (Orange County’s first half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements) which has delivered more than $4 billion in projects. And as the first Measure M program concludes, we officially begin collecting sales tax in April under the Measure M2 program that was approved by 70 percent of voters in 2006. 

As we embark on the M2 program, which will provide more than $14 billion for transportation improvements over 30 years, OCTA is finalizing a strategic plan that will help set the foundation for future success in Orange County.

Just like large corporations and businesses across the economic landscape, this plan will help OCTA take a strategic, outcome-oriented approach to implementing our programs. The plan will further refine our agency’s core goals and objectives, and set measurable strategies to ensure we are keeping our promises to the voters, while fully engaging our board, our employees and our stakeholders in the process.

Because of the necessity in today’s climate to provide transparency in government, we want to be sure we are being good stewards of the public’s taxes and that our constituents are aware of our progress and accomplishments. We will create a dashboard of performed objectives that can be measured quarterly and provided for public review.

I encourage other transportation agencies that haven’t developed a strategic plan to consider the benefits it could offer your agency. With a changing economic climate and major shifts taking place in Washington, a strategic plan can provide a refreshed direction to guide both short- and long-term transportation planning.


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  • Michael Komenda[ January 24th, 2011 @ 11:43am ]

    I agree with Mr. Kempton from OCTA that Strategic planing will be the key to obtaining resources from a current shrinking financial pie. This plan needs to be dynamic as the conditions change quickly. It is a time for initiative, not indecision. The first area which is a priority should be the supply chain process for all the consumables we purchase as transportation provider. We have common needs such as fuel,lubricants,cleaning supplies,tires,shocks,drive train components,etc.. Perhaps small regional or state groups could deal with vendors as a group through standardization. Limiting inventory and knowing lead time reduce financial waste and lost productivity. Emission components for "green technology" are extremely expensive and provided by a few select vendors. Liaison must be established between suppliers and the transit industry as consumers of these products, to understand that joint survival is at stake. Acting as as a group will lead to the benefits derived by Economy of Size.

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