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3 SECTION 1 INTRODUCTION--EFFECTIVENESS OF BOARDS OF DIRECTORS Determining the effectiveness of a board of directors (board) and fewer still are universally assessed. This is largely responsible for policymaking and oversight for a nonprofit because of a focus on inputs and organization rather than on public enterprise such as a transit system depends on a number outputs (in the form of decisions and policymaking leader- of perspectives with regard to what is to be evaluated, who will ship for the organization). do the evaluation, and the level in the overall social, economic, Although there are few questions in the assessment tool and political environment at which the policymaking board pertaining to board attributes, the education or skills of the operates. The system diagram shown in Exhibit 1 illustrates the board members, or their qualifications to represent particular variables that ultimately affect the performance characteristics constituencies (such as the mobility impaired or economi- that are to be evaluated by transit boards. cally disadvantaged), these characteristics are generally not The diagram portrays the numerous factors that can affect a directly affected by a sitting board, and they are therefore not board's effectiveness. However, the most immediate improve- considered in board effectiveness measurements. However, ments the board can undertake are limited to its own actions. some may argue that many boards and many individual The broader category of effort that boards exert to achieve board members are consulted regarding upcoming board intended results is called "Board Actions Behavior" in the appointments. Those boards that do advise their appointing diagram to include patterns of actions and effort to alter atti- agencies about the skills and characteristics that are needed tudes that may improve the board's effectiveness. Another in future appointees to the board may decide to add such important measure of board effectiveness is board results. characteristics to the self-assessment. However, an expert Typical measures of board results include the proportion of panel that selected the evaluation criteria concurred that meeting time spent on substantive discussions, the effective- boards generally do not affect appointments and decided that ness of committee structures, and agenda prioritization. board attributes should not be a board effectiveness assess- However, few of these measures attract unanimous support, ment factor.
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4 Enabling Board Statute Attributes Board Effectiveness Assessment System Board Actions Behavior Board Results Public, Media, Policy- Maker Support Staff and Operations Effectiveness Agency Performance Funding Constraints External Influences Transportation Environment Built Environment Exhibit 1. Board effectiveness assessment system.