An effective agency builds trust and shapes its desired culture in part through being open and honest about its budgets, financial condition and performance. It establishes ways to engage staff, those served and the public to provide input and participate in making decisions about aspects of the budget and its administration for which they have expertise and where their buy-in is required. It continuously strives to match its resources with the demands and expectations of those being served towards those services having a positive and sustainable impact on their lives. Agency leaders should assess the degree to which its budget and finance activities reinforce such a culture of stewardship, transparency, inclusiveness and drive for desired outcomes.
A critical breakthrough that many agencies experience is moving from a primarily program- or staff-focused culture to a more client and outcome-focused one. While agencies should regard program adherence, staff retention and motivation and units of service as important, they should strive for program and staff effectiveness in the service of desired outcomes for those they serve. In an overly program-focused culture, the primary interests of the agency are program compliance and the level of output by the agency in comparison to program-specific output goals (e.g., accuracy and timeliness of program delivery). In an overly staff-focused culture, the primary interests are staff satisfaction with leadership and with the benefits of working for the agency (e.g., staff travel priorities not in line with performance goals or residential placements based mainly on staff-facility relationships). In a primarily client and outcome-focused culture, programs and staff interests are shaped and reshaped as needed in the service of the most effective practice model for improving the lives of children, youth and families (e.g., changing program policies and job requirements to support the innovation of a practice for those served by it; integrating products and services through partnership and collaboration across programmatic or jurisdictional silos).