Special Projects

Special Projects

Addressing critical, urgent needs

Given our flexible, collaborative model, Civic Consulting Alliance is uniquely positioned to capture timely opportunities and address urgent challenges that advance our mission—to make the Chicago region a great place for everyone to live in and work.

Recent examples of our special projects work include:

  • Creating Cook Country's first Long Range Transportation Plan in more than 75 years
  • Supporting Chicago's Department of Family and Support Services to develop an operating model, priorities, and goals
  • Improving operational efficiency of the Illinois Department of Transportation's contracting processes
  • Developing and supporting the Civic Leadership Academy, which graduated its second cohort of 30 fellows in July 2016
Case Study:
Race to the Start - A Transition in Action

One of the most vulnerable moments for any government – at any level – is the transition from one chief executive to the next. Overnight, a campaign team turns its focus from winning an election to running a government. This can be a disorienting process. A slow or cumbersome transition will, at best, put a new administration on its hind legs from the start. At worst, critical day-to-day operations can be disrupted.

At the federal level, presidential candidates receive preparatory briefings, office space and transition staff many months before the election. At the state level, the process is less defined.

The challenges facing any governor-elect are daunting. Beyond the appointments and legislative strategy, there are major policy and operational considerations. Newly-appointed agency directors have their own transitions to manage and functional learning curves to climb. How does a new administration start to understand, and then manage, Illinois’ $66 billion budget – inherited virtually overnight?

Beyond the budget and policy decisions, the administration must listen to, and represent, constituencies with diverse interests and opinions across the state.

The transition timeline is unforgiving. In our last gubernatorial election, the new administration had just 44 business days to get to the starting line.

Just after the election, Governor-elect Rauner’s team contacted Civic Consulting Alliance and asked for assistance mobilizing an operation the scope and scale of which had never been attempted before in Illinois. The objective of the effort was to identify challenges and opportunities in policy and operations, and to engage hundreds of stakeholders, to help the new administration hit the ground running on behalf of every resident of the State.

Civic Consulting Alliance immediately began to work on what it’s done best for 25 years: Mobilizing the private sector to bring pro bono expertise and capacity to a public interest initiative. In a matter of days, 28 transition co-chairs were appointed across 12 functional areas:

• Agriculture
• Economic Development
• Education
• Emergency Management
• Energy, Environment, Utilities and Natural Resources
• Health and Human Services
• Information Technology
• Infrastructure
• Intergovernmental Efficiencies and Local Government
• Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice
• Operations
• Veterans

44 policy co-chairs and 132 committee members representing a wide cross section of Illinois stakeholders and interested parties were announced shortly thereafter. Altogether, more than 40 consultants (33 full-time) from eight partner firms, including Accenture, Bain & Company, The Boston Consulting Group, Colliers International, Deloitte LLP, EY, Leff Communications and McKinsey & Company, contributed their time and expertise to manage this effort.

The teams interviewed hundreds of experts, requested and read more than 1,400 pages of policy memos, and reviewed more than 2,500 ideas submitted by the general public through a website. Collectively, they dedicated thousands of hours to identifying promising strategies from other states, developing insights and drafting recommendations.

From the outset, the teams were guided by several principles: to be comprehensive in evaluating policies; to be rigorous and factbased in their analyses; and to be inclusive and nonpartisan, ensuring that promising ideas were considered regardless of the source.

On January 9, the team published a report, “Building a Better Illinois: Report of the Transition Co-chairs to the Governor-elect,” which provided a framework for the new administration. The report contained a new vision for Illinois in each of the 12 policy areas, 46 critical strategies for each area and 81 ideas that the administration could act on in its first hundred days.

The teams also hosted transition briefings for the new directors appointed by the Governor, covering both policy and operations. For each, the teams produced a comprehensive onboarding packet, as well as a framework for the transformation of the State’s IT and operational capabilities.

There is a great American tradition of wishing the best for a new administration after a hard-fought campaign. But wishing, to steal a phrase, is not a strategy. Thanks to an extraordinary effort by a host of civic-minded private-sector companies and hundreds of residents from across the state, the Illinois Governor and his administration came to the starting line with a wealth of information and perspective and hit the ground running.

Click here to access the PDF of this case study.

Building on Chicago's architectural heritage

Chicago takes pride in its global reputation for architectural creativity and innovation. When Civic Consulting Alliance helped Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) release the City's first Cultural Plan in 2012, the Plan included a bold vision for a new, city-wide architectural celebration... Read more

Civic Consulting Alliance's work built on the solid foundation of the successful 2015 event and leaves us even more enthusiastic that the Biennial will be a cornerstone of the city's cultural landscape for years to come.

David McDermott

Chief of Staff, Department of

Cultural Affairs and Special Events