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5 SECTION 2 THE PURPOSE OF AND NEED FOR BOARD SELF-ASSESSMENT WHO SHOULD USE THE ASSESSMENT? potentially interrelated applications over time. The continu- ing purpose is to measure trends in board development, from TCRP Report 104: Public Transportation Board Effective- both an individual and collective perspective. Boards grow ness--A Self-Assessment Handbook (Handbook) has been in their effectiveness as directors begin working together prepared to address a variety of policymaker and oversight more effectively. Boards may wish to use the self-assessment situations, including the following: process at different times and for different purposes; these might include familiarizing new directors with the operation Transit boards composed of appointed or elected directors; or identifying particular talents the board is seeking for actual Transit boards composed of citizen volunteers and/or or impending vacancies. The assessment provides a means elected officials; for determining how directors view the board's effectiveness Directors serving as volunteers or compensated for part- in particular categories of performance. Over time, the direc- time or full-time services; tors or their views may change, just as the issues that face the Chairpersons seeking to identify board performance board may change. Accordingly, the self-assessment should improvements; and allow for multiple applications as circumstances change. Consultants, advisors, and board mentors seeking to iden- tify performance issues and improve board effectiveness. A need for a mechanism to help the board develop greater effectiveness in deliberations, decisions, and oversight. Self-assessments of board effectiveness will often vary, WHY SHOULD A BOARD ASSESS ITS PERFORMANCE? reflecting the different perceptions and perspectives of indi- vidual directors. The self-assessment process gives the board The need for a board self-assessment of its performance as a way to identify the divergence and convergence of differ- a policymaking and oversight body can arise from a number ent directors' performance assessments. This helps to iden- of situations that are either positive or negative and either tify areas for change and improvement. For example, more internal or external to the board. Typical factors that may pro- or less attention to detail may be appropriate with respect to mote board interest in self-assessment of its performance are operating performance, expense budgets, and so forth. The discussed below. self-assessment provides an opportunity to inform discerning directors by giving them a potentially enlightened perspec- Board members' interest in, and commitment to, identify- tive on their interests, participation, and involvement in board ing and improving processes that enhance board effective- deliberations relative to the body as a whole. ness. This is not necessarily an indication of known deficien- cies, but rather a tacit admission that the board may have areas A desire for a flexible tool for orienting and training rela- in which it could work more effectively as a policymaking and tively new directors about board performance and the oversight body. The self-assessment instrument allows direc- effectiveness of directors and the board. The self-assessment tors to evaluate different categories and subcategories of board can be used to introduce new directors to the board and its pol- performance. The results can be used to focus on particular icymaking oversight responsibilities, either apart from the topics, depending on the directors' self-assessment responses. board assessment process (such as during orientation or The assessment provides a common denominator, allowing when reviewing general board materials) or as part of the full the board to review and discuss performance perceptions, board assessment of its performance. Newly appointed direc- issues, and concerns voiced by directors. tors can get a perspective on where the board is vis--vis the skills and abilities that they might contribute to enhance board An interest in establishing assessment trend lines for issues effectiveness. The self-assessment process can be used to and outlining areas of strength and further development. inform new directors as to what is expected of them as effec- From this perspective, board performance assessment is not tive contributors to the existing, usually less-than-perfect viewed as a unique, one-time event, but rather as a series of policymaking body.

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6 A need to identify whether new talent or expertise for the management), just how well the board thinks that it is policymaking oversight is necessary when vacancies of doing with respect to (1) adherence to broad policy and over- directors arise or are anticipated. Aside from assistance in sight responsibilities and (2) leaving the delegation of these training or orienting new directors, the board can use the self- items to the purview of management. Whether directors have assessment process to identify particular talents or skill sets a proclivity to intervene or not to intervene in operations or that would complement the continuing board. Whether direc- administration matters under the responsibility of manage- tors are retiring or are otherwise not likely candidates for ment, the self-assessment gives them an opportunity to see reappointment or reelection, board turnover is an opportunity the perspective of the overall policymaking body as it strives to identify whether there are unique underdeveloped skill to function in the longer-range strategic policy and oversight sets that are particularly needed by the board (e.g., knowl- affairs of the transit agency. edge of insurance, liability, and actuarial issues). Board self- assessment may be an appropriate mechanism for effectively An interest in identifying directors' views about board conveying to appointing officials the board's sense of the effectiveness and solidifying board consensus on perfor- director qualifications that are needed to enhance board mance issues and areas of concern. Policymaking oversight performance. bodies will usually be composed of members with different personalities, perspectives, interests, and levels of participa- An interest in providing direction and incentive for the tion in board business. Differences among directors or groups board and the chair to work more effectively with senior of directors may arise over views on board effectiveness in management officials who report directly to the board. A general or in particular areas. The self-assessment can help primary function of the board is to set policies and have them boards define the directors' different views about board effec- implemented through a chief executive officer (CEO) that tiveness and seek to address common performance issues and the board has recruited and hired. The CEO usually serves at areas of concern. The improvement consensus can become the pleasure of the policymaking body. There may also be an agenda for change by identifying the gaps that exist among other senior-level staff members who report directly to the directors on how board effectiveness is identified (in terms board and serve at its pleasure. Accordingly, a major role for of particular performance issues and areas of concern that the board is periodically evaluating the CEO and other report- affect board members). The self-assessment can be used to ing staff with regard to board-specified performance criteria develop a strategy to improve performance. and making commensurate merit adjustments in compensa- tion. Beyond these milestones, which presumably occur at A need to distinguish between board performance issues least annually, the board, the CEO, and other directly report- and unique concerns of particular directors. The self- ing staff must develop a harmonious relationship of mutual assessment can be used to identify whether a particular direc- respect and trust. The self-assessment process can be used to tor's board performance perceptions and concerns are shared identify areas where board members can contribute posi- by other members of the board or tend to reflect individual tively to this ongoing relationship, as well as communicate characteristics. This can provide some insight for the board to the management staff group better-defined board expecta- and the chair, helping to identify the extent to which these tions concerning their performance and their relationship director-specific concerns can be refocused or otherwise pre- with the board. The board self-assessment may also be used vented from becoming disruptive to the workings of the board effectively by the board chair in conferring with the CEO, if pursued by other directors. and it may allow individual directors, as members of the policymaking and oversight body, to better assess their roles An interest in discovering common insights on, and shared and relationships to the CEO. perspectives of, board performance. The self-assessment will allow boards to evaluate their performance on a variety A need to explicitly recognize particular board policy and of topics and issues particular to policymaking oversight oversight responsibilities and identify areas not normally bodies. The self-assessment can be viewed as a means to under direct board oversight. Most boards and directors solidify common insights and perceptions about where the have to exercise judgment on whether and to what extent to board is and where it needs to be with regard to particular cat- become involved in governance of particular aspects of tran- egories of performance. The self-assessment process can be sit performance under the rubric of policymaking oversight. viewed as an instrument to provide for focused and planned The gap between policymaking with effective oversight and changes to enhance the board's performance according to the usurping management prerogatives by intrusion into the day- shared perspectives of directors. The self-assessment process to-day administrative details of management and staff is some- is a vehicle to identify the shared concerns and begin to times not clear with respect to particular issues or in terms of develop a consensus to address them. the directors' perceptions and interests. One advantage of performing a self-assessment is that it collectively identifies, A desire for information that could serve as the basis for from the directors' perspectives (which may not be shared by discussions with other transit agency boards or individual