The TASC List: Strengths and weaknesses

Wilton has many attractive attributes and distinctively positive features. We’ve identified quite a few in the past. Among them are an extremely well-educated population with the highest regard for the education of its children and the willingness to support the district’s processes in that effort. Another is the robust deployment of that population toward volunteer activities, assignment to service openings and offices across the town, and participation in roles and responsibilities aimed at community improvement. Within the town operations functions reside a group of high-performing professionals — from policing and firefighting to finance and planning, and throughout the mobile, dispatched, and fast-response teams that plow the roads, repair the surfaces, mitigate the spills, and maintain the access to spaces we have come to depend upon for recreation and exercise.

In the arts, library science, farm and agricultural interests, the continued focus on and preservation of our rich historical background, and especially on the pursuit of a carefully tended culture of respect, good works, and ethical behaviors, we are second to none. Our strengths are broad reaching, widely recognized, and add up to a reputation for safe, sensible, secure, and mutually supportive suburban living.     

But like every organizational construct, and all human enterprises, there are weaknesses to accompany our strengths. We deal with them in the tried-and-true Yankee tradition of speaking up, being heard, and seeking solutions in an open forum adjudicated by elected officials and appointed boards and commissions. Imperfect at best. But over time, the record will show that improvements overshadow declines, and results in the form of solutions overwhelm mistakes and missteps.

Where do we need improvement today in Wilton? That’s the question.                       

What and where are our current shortcomings? Perhaps we seek some of the following things. Not all of us. Not all of them. But this beginning list may reflect the thoughts and expectations of a few who have stood up, have come forward, and have shared their opinions for the record.

1) The need for transparency has been cited. For insight into evolving issues that may require public inputs before they are finally decided. And for the opportunity to understand fully the consequences and impacts of changes in policy or protocol on the citizen base.

2) The assurance that taxpayer dollars are being used in optimal ways, rather than to continue old programs, non-productive practices, and because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” This suggests an objective spotlight on efficiency, effectiveness, productivity, and descriptive measurements.

3) The important belief that a system of controls and disciplined procedures need to be in place to protect our assets and resources, our vital records, and guarantee that our reporting of results and outcomes is both accurate and complete.

4) The concern that our processes are well-defined and carefully tuned to reflect both up-to-date and best practices within each functional area of town operations and educational administration.

5) Confidence that the annual budget development work reflects the very best methodologies available for cost reduction wherever possible, effectiveness, technological enablement, and the continual search for quality.

6) The knowledge that every organization and each individual within it completely understands what constitutes ethical behavior and sound business conduct and practices.

7) That without specifically identifying the shadowy specters of fraud, incompetence, mismanagement, and conflicts of interest, but acknowledging their widespread and uniformly distributed existence, there are embedded sufficient deterrents and satisfactory safeguards against wrongdoing in every activity.

8) That objectively and quantitatively oriented performance plans are constructed and reviewed annually to assure that every individual is focused on the strategic plan and overall mission of the organization to which they belong, and how they can be achieved at each level.

That’s a start. Fortunately, there is a straightforward approach to turning these challenges into strengths. It involves the appointment of an independent internal auditor working under the counsel and guidance of our first selectman. The rewards potential is rich and far-reaching. A more attractive Wilton in necessary and important ways awaits its implementation.    

TASC stands for Toward A Stronger Community. Contact: