Evaluation, Statistics and Research
Staff adhere to best practices as set forth in the American Evaluation Association's Guiding Principles, the Joint Committee on Standards for Educational Evaluation's Program Evaluation Standards, and our Division's Key Values.
Current & Completed Projects
Nonprofits & Local Units of Government
In 2017, the department began offering its evaluation, research, and data services to nonprofits and local units of government as part of a fee-for-service arrangement. The department has had the privilege to work with Harbor Transit, Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance, Community Action House, Ready for School, each of the nine libraries located in Ottawa County, the City of Holland, the City of Zeeland, Spring Lake Village, and Spring Lake Township. Examples of work completed for these nonprofits and local units of government include strategic planning, survey and data collection tool design, data analysis and reporting, compiling community statistics for master plans, and full-scale evaluations.
Department Performance Outlines
The Department of Strategic Impact works closely with County departments/divisions to define their respective goals and objectives, and the measures that are used to verify performance. This information, assembled into a Performance Outline for each department/division, is updated annual with outcome data. 44 unique Performance Outlines are maintained for each of the County’s departments/divisions. The Performance Outlines can be viewed in the County’s Annual Budget document.
The Department maintains a variety of up-to-date demographic and economic statistics for Ottawa County and its local units of government. These include annual population estimates and projections, monthly labor force and unemployment statistics, and annual residential and commercial construction activity data.
The Department of Strategic Impact continues to maintain the County’s web-based Performance Dashboard by updating 19 datasets annually. The County and State Government Dashboard includes Ottawa County and Michigan statistics in highly visual, interactive charts and graphs.
Nonprofit Community Assessment (2022)
The Department of Strategic Impact worked with the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance (LNA) to complete the second Nonprofit Community Assessment, a data collection project to help measure the overall health of the local nonprofit community. The results of the assessment track several important outcomes for Ottawa County-area nonprofits including demographic data, retention and talent level of staff, board practices, compensation data, the degree to which organizations are following best financial and operational practices, and the overall strategic nature of nonprofits.
Department staff revised survey questions, collected survey responses, analyzed survey data, and compiled the results in an aggregate format. Staff also created a comparison of data points between the 2019 and 2022 assessments. Three highly-visual reports were produced for the LNA — a Summary Report, a Main Report, and a Supplemental Report that featured crosstabulations of two or more survey questions.
Step It Up Evaluation Report (2022)
The Department of Strategic Impact continues to collaborate with the Department of Public Health and the Parks & Recreation Department to evaluate the annual Step It Up program. The free, 8-week program offers group walks, an adventure series, weekly strength training, healthy eating tips, and provides accountability with physical activity goal setting and reporting. Through these program offerings, the goal is to get community members active, visiting new parks, exercising outdoors more frequently, and improving their overall health.
Senior Project Fresh Evaluation (2022)
The Department of Strategic Impact continued to partner with Ottawa Food to assess its 2021 Senior Project Fresh (SPF) program. SPF aims to increase access to fresh, local produce and improve healthy eating habits among seniors aged 60 years and older at 185% or below of the federal poverty level. Participants receive $20 in vouchers to purchase fresh produce at local farmers markets. The evaluation includes an assessment of theprogram's activities, outputs, impacts, and opportunities to improve.
Ready for School Summer Kindergarten Readiness Camp Evaluation
The Department of Strategic Impact (DSI) worked with Ready for School to perform an evaluation of their Summer Kindergarten Readiness Camp and to determine the program's effectiveness in getting students ready for kindergarten. Ready for School and the DSI partnered to measure and collect the evaluation data as well as to complete the evaluation report. Collection of evaluation data included determining progress of student readiness for kindergarten by measuring pre- and post-program PELI assessments, observational TS Gold evaluations, and feedback from parents garnered through a post-program survey. Learn More »
Ottawa County Library Mobile Broadband Hotspot Evaluation (2021)
The nine libraries in Ottawa County were awarded a Library of Michigan Library Services and Technology Act grant in 2019 that allowed them to acquire 100 T-Mobile hotspots for library patrons to check-out. The project aimed to fill the void in internet accessibility and affordability within the county. The Department of Strategic Impact worked with the libraries to design a data collection system and evaluate the impact of the 2-year pilot project. Learn More »
Step It Up Evaluation Report (2021)
The Department continues to collaborate with the Department of Public Health and the Parks & Recreation Department to evaluate the annual Step It Up program. The free, 8-week program offers group walks, an adventure series, weekly strength training, health eating and mental health tips, and provides accountability with physical activity goal setting and reporting. Through these program offerings, the goal is to get community members active, visiting new parks, exercising outdoors more frequently, and improving their overall health. Learn More »
Senior Project Fresh Evaluation (2021)
The Department of Strategic Impact worked with Ottawa Food to assess its 2020 Senior Project Fresh program. The evaluation includes an assessment of the program’s activities, outputs, impacts, and opportunities to improve. Learn More
Holland City Boards, Commissions, and Committees Report (2020)
The Department of Strategic Impact worked with the City of Holland to have all City boards, commissions, and committees (BCCs) review their intent and purpose as well as to self-reflect on their work. The evaluation was also intended to assess BCC performance and function. The Department created survey tools, collected survey data from 23 BCCs, analyzed the data, and compiled the results into one main summary report and individual reports for each BCC. Learn More »
Zeeland City Staffing Evaluation Report (2020)
The Department of Strategic Impact worked with the City of Zeeland to evaluate staffing levels within the City Services and Infrastructure departments, which are responsible for tasks such as building maintenance and custodial work, street maintenance, vehicle service, and park/cemetery maintenance. The evaluation was conducted due to two impending retirements of the supervisors of these departments. [new line] The Department conducted interviews with staff in order to perform a thematic analysis to assess the workload in each department. One-on-one interviews were conducted virtually, and results were transcribed for analysis. Two methods were used to collect benchmarking data: National data was collecting using online research and online research and an online benchmarking survey which was sent to the comparable cities. The data collected was used to create a comprehensive, visually engaging report. Learn More »
Parks and Recreation Resident Survey (2020)
The Department of Strategic Impact worked with the Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department to survey the residents of Ottawa County in order to determine the following: To gauge residents' perception and satisfaction with the overall parks system, to ensure long-term goals of the five-year Parks, Recreation & Open Space Plan reflect the desire of the community, and to gauge residents' support for the County Parks' funding model/millage – as well as to achieve the overall goal of community engagement with Ottawa County residents. The Department reviewed survey questions and provided feedback to the Parks and Recreation Department, analyzed survey data, compiled the results in aggregate, and compiled open-ended responses into a highly visual report. Learn More »
Ottawa County Suicide Prevention Coalition Strategic Plan (2019)
The Department of Strategic Impact worked with the Ottawa County Suicide Prevention Coalition to help them create a strategic plan that outlines their mission, goals, objectives, as well as measures for each coalition initiative. Learn more in the Strategic Plan and Emerging Issues documents.
Nonprofit Community Assessment (2019)
The Department worked with the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance (LNA) to complete the LNA Nonprofit Community Assessment—a first-of-its-kind data collection project to help the LNA measure the overall health of the local nonprofit community.
Department staff reviewed survey questions and provided feedback to LNA, collected survey responses, analyzed survey data, and compiled the results in an aggregate format. Three highly-visual reports were produced for the LNA — a Summary Report, a Main Report, and a Supplemental Report that featured crosstabulations of two or more survey questions. Learn More »
Ottawa Food Evaluation (2019)
The Department completed a 2-year evaluation of five of the Ottawa Food “Healthy Ottawa” projects. The five projects address Ottawa Food’s three priority areas for Ottawa County—eliminate hunger; increase healthy eating habits; and increase the sourcing of local food. Learn More »
Public Defender Office (2018)
The Department actively participated in the creation of Ottawa County’s first compliance plan and cost analysis plan for a new Public Defender Office. Ottawa County was required to complete and submit this plan to the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission (MIDC) in November 2017. After several iterations, the MIDC accepted Ottawa County’s plan in June 2018. The Department then played an active role in implementing the Public Defender Office along with a group of dedicated County and court employees.
The Department’s work included the creation of a webpage, FAQ document, and hiring process timeline; participating in interviews for the Public Defender; presenting at an informational meeting with defense attorneys and other court and law enforcement personnel; regularly communicating with the MIDC; and working closely with County departments to ensure the Public Defender Office was implemented successfully.
Ottawa County Geographic Information System Strategic Plan
The Department of Strategic Impact assisted the Ottawa County Geographic Information System (GIS) Department with the completion of their long-range strategic plan. The plan formally documented the GIS Department’s existing conditions as well as future opportunities. It also serves as a strategic plan to guide the GIS Department as it moves forward.
Community Mental Health (2016)
The Department completed a Community Mental Health (CMH) Authority report in 2016. The report examined the advantages, disadvantages, and cost savings that would result from Ottawa County CMH becoming an Authority. The report also assessed the potential impacts to County operations if CMH became an Authority.
The assessment revealed that there are several potential benefits of CMH becoming an Authority; however, the potential disadvantages largely outnumber the benefits. If CMH became an Authority, there is a potential increase in cost, a significant increase in liability, and a potential decrease in service levels from human resources, fiscal services, and other administrative departments.
Tax Increment Financing (2015)
The Department completed a report about Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in November 2015. TIF is a method of financing the cost of public improvements that promote community development and/or redevelopment projects. Ottawa County has supported the use of TIF in local communities for years, but an evaluation has never been completed to measure the outputs and outcomes of this economic development tool. As a result, County Administration requested this report to explain TIF and determine the impact of Ottawa County’s participation in TIF Districts. Learn More »
Sentenced Work Abatement Program (SWAP) Evaluation (2015)
The Sentenced Work Abatement Program (SWAP) was created in 1991 to allow local units of government and non-profit agencies to employ minimum-security inmates for the purpose of performing a variety of work projects (e.g. lawn mowing, hedge-trimming, litter pick-up, painting). As an incentive to participate in SWAP, eligible inmates receive a one day reduction in their jail sentence for every four days of SWAP service. SWAP has been evaluated twice during the pas 10 years. Learn More in our 2011 and 2015 evaluations.
Holland SmartZone (2015)
In September 2014, the Department prepared a 15-year tax capture analysis for the Holland SmartZone. The tax capture analysis provided County Administration, Holland City leaders, and Holland Township leaders with a projection of the amount of tax revenue that each taxing jurisdiction will lose over 15 years once the SmartZone is created. The analysis also provided a summary of the amount of tax revenue that will be captured over 15 years. Learn More »
E-Ticket System (2014)
In 2013, the Department completed an initial Time-Study and Cost-Benefit analysis of an electronic traffic ticketing system (i.e. e-Ticket). An e-Ticket system is designed to increase efficiency, reduce cost, and improve the safety of Road Patrol Officers. The results of the analyses revealed that the County could achieve a positive return-on-investment in the system in 10 years because of projected reductions in material usage associated with processing traffic tickets electronically, and an anticipated reduction in staff (through attrition) of a part-time clerk position in the District Court. The Sheriff’s Office began using the e-Ticket system in their patrol cars in January 2014.
Public Utilities Task Force Report (2013)
In May 2013, the Department assisted the Public Utility Task Force in completing a study of the Public Utility services that are currently provided by the Road Commission. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the optimal organizational structure for the current and future delivery of public utility services in the County. Learn More »
Road Commission Task Force Report (2013)
In 2012, legislation was passed which enabled counties to transfer all of the powers, duties, and functions of the Road Commission to the County Board of Commissioners. The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners subsequently appointed a Road Commission Task Force to evaluate the options that the Board could undertake as it relates to the potential transfer of the Road Commission to the County. Learn More »
Organizational Efficiency Analysis - Property Description &
Mapping Division (2013)
In early 2012, Equalization Department managers requested that an Organizational Efficiency Analysis (OEA) be conducted for the Property Description and Mapping Division. An OEA analyzes the organizational structure, staffing levels, and service delivery. The OEA verified that several opportunities exist to achieve greater efficiencies in PD&M. In total, 2,609 hours in annual time savings were identified. This time savings will translate into a .73 FTE reduction in staff, which will save almost $60,000 annually. Learn More »
Harbor Transit (2013)
The Department assisted the Harbor Transit Authority Board with the development of their first 5-Year Strategic Plan. The collaborative effort resulted in an innovative, Excel-based Plan for the organization. The Plan includes three components: 1) Strategic Outline; 2) Performance Management Outline; and 3) Performance Dashboard. The innovative, user-friendly Excel-based Plan saves valuable staff time, ensures that performance calculations are accurate, and promotes transparency.
e-Crash System Cost-Analysis (2012)
This evaluation of an electronic traffic crash reporting system (i.e. e-Crash system) was prepared to quantify the purported benefits of implementing an e-Crash system and to determine whether the benefits (labor and material savings) justify the County’s cost to install and maintain the system. The Study results reveal that the e-Crash technology is projected to provide a positive ROI for the County. Learn More »
Loutit Library (2012)
The Department worked collaboratively with Board members and staff from the Loutit District Library to complete a Performance Plan for the Library. The Plan consists of a Strategic Outline that clearly defines the target population, goals and objectives, and programs and services of the Library. It also consists of a Performance Outline that defines the measures that are used to assess the Library’s annual performance and cost-effectiveness.
Communities Helping Ottawa Obtain a Safe Environment (CHOOSE) Evaluation (2011)
This 2011 evaluation of the CHOOSE Program includes an assessment of program activity outputs, determines whether the activities are aligned with the program’s pre-established goals and objectives, and whether the activities are having a preliminary impact in the targeted quadrant. An assessment of program cost is also included. Learn More »
Electronic Content Management System Evaluation (2010)
This comprehensive four-year study, which received a 2011 NACO Achievement Award, documents the cost and benefits of the County's Electronic Content Management (ECM) System. The System is designed to image, manage, archive, and deliver justice system documents in digital/electronic formats. The evaluation includes an assessment of the County's Return-on-Investment (ROI) using a Time-Study and Materials Analysis, a Cost-Benefit Analysis and a Sensitivity Analysis. The evaluation also documents the intangible benefits of the ECM system that have resulted for employees and individuals involved in the County’s criminal justice system. Learn More »
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Evaluation (2009)
This evaluation assesses whether the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Program is administered efficiently and whether beneficial, cost-effective outcomes are being achieved. This is accomplished by analyzing administrative and operational program components, as well as completion rates, recidivism rates, and cost. Learn More »
Inmate Case Management and Treatment Program Evaluation (2009)
This evaluation measures the extent to which the ICMT Program is achieving the targeted administrative measures. The administrative functions that were measured involved the ICMT Case Manager’s ability to maintain high program enrollment levels, adhere to the program’s target population criteria, and administer the primary components of the program. Also included in this evaluation is an overview of program completion rates, treatment plan completion rates, jail diversions, and program cost. Learn More »
Contact the Department of Strategic Impact for more information about other projects completed prior to 2009.