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Home > For Principal Reps and Faculty > News > NASPAA Strategic Planning Initiative 

2003 Strategic Planning Initiative:
PRELIMINARY STEPS, OBJECTIVES, PROCESS, AND OUTCOME

National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)
December 2003

During the October 2002 NASPAA Annual Conference, the NASPAA Executive Council, upon the recommendation of outgoing NASPAA President Carolyn Ban and incoming NASPAA President Jo Ivey Boufford, endorsed a 2003 strategic planning initiative to help the Council and NASPAA members chart NASPAA’s priorities over the next three to five years.

During 2003, the Executive Council took stock of the needs and interests of NASPAA member schools, assessed current NASPAA programs and potential new initiatives, and explored ways to strengthen NASPAA priorities and programs through organizational partnerships that promote public service and foster excellence in public affairs, public administration, and public policy education and training for leadership in public service.

Any strategic planning process for an institutional membership association like NASPAA necessarily is ongoing. Thus, the Executive Council affirmed that it was important for NASPAA to continue to focus its attention and resources on current program priorities (as determined by the Executive Council and NASPAA members) during this 2003 planning process. At the same time, the initiative provided opportunities to identify new strategic directions within current or even new priority areas.

The following sections describe the preliminary steps, objectives, process, and outcomes of the 2003 NASPAA strategic planning initiative.


2003 Strategic Planning Initiative: Preliminary Steps
In early 2002, NASPAA President Carolyn Ban asked Vice President Jo Ivey Boufford to convene an ad hoc Strategic Planning Work Group to begin a strategic planning initiative and to report to the Executive Council at its April 2002 meeting. Vice President Boufford asked Council members Dan Mazmanian, B.J. Reed, and Genia Toma to serve with her on this Work Group.

The Strategic Planning Work Group reviewed background documents on NASPAA programs and other activities; conducted interviews with a small cross-section of NASPAA member deans/faculty, former presidents of NASPAA, and representatives of selected external stakeholder organizations (e.g., government agencies, professional associations, practitioner organizations); and drafted a discussion paper for consideration by the Executive Council at its April 2002 meeting. At this meeting, the Council discussed the Work Group’s report, but delayed further action on a strategic planning initiative until the 2002 NASPAA Annual Conference so that the new NASPAA Executive Director could participate.

To inform NASPAA members about the Executive Council’s initial strategic planning steps, as well as to provide an opportunity for members to participate in this planning process, a 2002 Annual Conference session was held on Saturday morning, October 19, on “NASPAA Strategic Planning: Dialogue with NASPAA’s President and Executive Director.” At that session, NASPAA President Boufford and NASPAA Executive Director Tolo led a conversation on the Strategic Planning Work Group’s April 2002 report and on ways to engage NASPAA members in the strategic planning initiative. Discussants shared excellent suggestions for conducting the strategic planning process; they also affirmed the importance of current NASPAA program priorities, while at the same time emphasizing the need to explore new strategic directions within current priorities.

Following the 2002 Annual Conference, President Boufford reappointed Executive Council members B.J. Reed (chair), Dan Mazmanian, and Genia Toma to serve as the Council’s Strategic Planning Work Group. This group worked with President Boufford and Executive Director Tolo to plan and guide the 2003 strategic planning initiative.

2003 Strategic Planning Initiative: Objectives
Building on the steps summarized above, the 2003 NASPAA initiative sought to

  • identify NASPAA programs, services, and activities of primary importance to NASPAA members in enabling them to provide high-quality education and training for leadership in the public service;
  • identify steps that NASPAA might take to improve the effectiveness with which it provides these priority programs, services, and activities to its members;
  • identify new strategic directions within current (or new) programs, services, and activities that meet NASPAA members’ needs and interests and assess the priority of these possible initiatives relative to current programs, services, and activities;
  • identify ways to promote NASPAA’s strategic priorities and directions through appropriate organizational partnerships and other initiatives; and
  • identify ways for NASPAA to enhance its effectiveness as a national and international voice to promote public service and to ensure excellence in public service education and training.


2003 Strategic Planning Initiative: Process
A central goal of the 2003 strategic planning initiative was to understand and respond to the challenges, needs, and interests shared by NASPAA’s 250 diverse public affairs, public administration, and public policy member programs. To achieve this goal, NASPAA provided various opportunities for its members to address the initiative’s objectives, both in small groups (e.g., regional conversations among NASPAA deans/directors and principal representatives, Executive Council members, and NASPAA staff) and individually (e.g., through the NASPAA website, e-mail, letters, phone calls, and visits with NASPAA staff in Washington).

Through their responses, members were invited to reflect on current NASPAA program priorities and react to them, reaffirm them, revise them – or argue that they are relatively unimportant in NASPAA’s strategic planning agenda. NASPAA also encouraged respondents to think beyond current priorities. For example, even if NASPAA members affirm the primary importance of the current priorities, are there new strategic directions within these priority areas that deserve greater attention from NASPAA than they now receive? Are there other pressing concerns or exciting opportunities that NASPAA might address as priorities over the next three to five years – and how important are they relative to current priorities? Or is NASPAA already focusing on key priorities?

To encourage member participation in this strategic planning process, NASPAA organized 7 dialogues around the U.S. during the first quarter of 2003, hosted by a NASPAA member in each site. NASPAA deans/directors and principal representatives participated, and Executive Director Tolo facilitated these sessions, with one or more Council members attending each session. NASPAA posted on its website the locations and dates for these sessions, which began in late January and concluded by March. NASPAA also regularly sent dialogue session details to NASPAA deans, directors, and principal representatives; they were encouraged to attend the closest session, but were welcome at any session. Each session lasted about 4-5 hours, enabling dialogue participants from the immediate region to travel from and return to their homes that same day.

NASPAA staff worked with the Council's Strategic Planning Work Group to synthesize the regional dialogue discussions, the responses from a NASPAA website questionnaire and other electronic communications, and other relevant information and to prepare a preliminary strategic directions document for review by the Executive Council at its April 2003 meeting. After Council review and discussion, the Work Group and staff prepared a revised strategic directions document that was distributed in summer 2003 for review and comment by the full NASPAA membership.

NASPAA further revised the strategic directions document based on comments received from its member institutions, with final review of the document occurring during the October 2003 NASPAA Annual Conference in Pittsburgh. At that time, the Executive Council made its final revisions, endorsed the final strategic directions document, and recommended that the document be posted on the NASPAA website after final editing was completed.

The 2003 strategic directions document will inform and guide NASPAA Executive Council, member, and staff planning during 2004. It also will serve as a framework for NASPAA priorities, programs, services, and activities both internally (e.g., by helping NASPAA committees and sections plan their action agendas) and externally (e.g., by identifying other organizations with which NASPAA might explore greater cooperation).