County Strategic Plan Moves Forward

County Executive Bryan Hill

In the months since public feedback on the county’s first-ever strategic plan yielded nine areas of focus, teams have been working to further define and shape the future of our community together.

Nine areas were identified as the county’s priorities for 2020 and beyond:

  • Cultural and Recreational Opportunities
  • Economic Opportunity
  • Education and Lifelong Learning
  • Effective and Efficient Government
  • Health and Environment
  • Housing and Neighborhood Livability
  • Mobility and Transportation
  • Safety and Security
  • Self-Sufficiency for People with Vulnerabilities

Teams have been conducting analysis, reviewing data, examining existing plans, taking site tours, writing goals, offering challenge questions and developing indicators to show progress. Teams have also been working together, since there are significant connections among all priority areas. Cross-cutting themes such as equity (framed by the One Fairfax policy on social and racial equity) have infused conversations about the plan as well.

Teams on a tour

Teams hit the road as part of their work and made various site tours around the county.

Outcome Statements

One of the first tasks for each team was to develop an outcome or goal statement to guide its work — kind of the vision for each area. Here are the nine draft goal statements:

Cultural and Recreational Opportunities
Fairfax County is a place where all residents, businesses and visitors are able to participate in world class arts, sports, recreation and culturally relevant activities.

Economic Opportunity
Fairfax County is a community where all people, businesses and places are thriving economically.

Education and Lifelong Learning
Fairfax County fosters education that promotes a responsive, caring and inclusive culture where all feel valued and that all are reached, challenged and prepared for success in school and life.

Effective and Efficient Government
Fairfax County is a place where all residents trust that their government responsibly manages resources, provides exceptional services and equitably represents the community.

Health and Environment
Fairfax County responsibly stewards environmental resources, advances sustainability and promotes optimal health and wellbeing for all.

Housing and Neighborhood Livability
Fairfax County is a place that fosters an enjoyable, affordable living experience for all people.

Mobility and Transportation
Fairfax County is a community where residents, businesses, visitors and goods can move efficiently, affordably and safely throughout the county and beyond via our well-maintained network of roads, sidewalks, trails and transit options.

Safety and Security
Fairfax County is a place where all people feel safe at home, school, work and in the community.

Self-Sufficiency for People with Vulnerabilities
Fairfax County is a place where all residents with vulnerabilities are supported and empowered to live independent lives to their fullest potential.

Challenge Questions and Indicators

The nine teams each developed challenge questions to frame their work, along with indicators that will help everyone understand if we’re making progress when implementation of the plan begins.

For example, the cultural and recreational opportunities team developed the following as one of its challenge questions:

How will we ensure equitable access to parks, trails, open spaces and recreational opportunities regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, gender, age, education, geographic location and income level?

As for a high-level indicator that will show progress, supported by underlying metrics, the team proposes as one of its measures:

Accessibility to the county’s cultural and recreational opportunities (affordability, availability, proximity and ability).

Rethinking Government

County Executive Bryan Hill has challenged all county staff, partners and the community to collaborate in new ways and to think differently about addressing community issues. Team members say they’ve already learned a lot through the process.

“Two of the strategies that we have identified so far with the biggest potential for positive impact are increased data sharing and improved coordination between service providers – maximizing efficiency and minimizing the risk that a vulnerable resident might fall through the cracks,” says Stephen Hartman, co-lead of the self-sufficiency team.

Sara Brinkmoeller, team lead for effective and efficient government, shared a similar insight, “Not knowing about work occurring in other parts of the organization prevents us from spring-boarding off one another’s successes.”

When it comes to thinking about how the community will benefit from the strategic plan, Brinkmoeller says, “I sincerely hope the work will result in the community having more varied ways of engaging with their government. I think the questions raised thus far in the strategic planning process will lead to strategies that have the potential for real impact.”

Kim Panzer, team lead for safety and security, echoed those sentiments. “I’m hoping the plan will provide a focused outcome of where we want to be and a roadmap to get us there. That way, Board of Supervisors’ decisions on funding can have even more impact.”

County Executive Bryan Hill

County Executive Bryan Hill provides a progress report on the strategic plan.

Next Steps

To this point, teams have not focused on solutions and strategies, but instead on framing their work through the goals, challenge questions and indicators. Recently, teams completed an exercise that helped identify the dozens of factors that influence their areas.

As work begins on draft strategies, a new round of community engagement is being planned for early fall. The full timeline includes:

  • Now Through November: Develop solutions, strategies and metrics.
  • September: Community engagement.
  • November-December: Refine draft strategic plan.
  • January: Present strategic plan to Board of Supervisors for consideration and adoption.

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