"So how are we doing?" asked Town of Appomattox Mayor Ronald Spiggle about his administration's government. The experts he queried were Virginia Tech graduate students in public administration. After spending a semester analyzing the activities of the town administration, conducting citizen surveys, and comparing the performance data to other localities, the student team concluded that the Appomattox government is doing a good job.

The project is part of an ongoing service-learning course, called Performance Measurement and Benchmarking (PMB), offered jointly by the Virginia Tech Office of Economic Development (OED) and the Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP) with the goal of utilizing university resources to assist local governments in providing public services more efficiently and effectively. Since 2001, teams of graduate students from CPAP, working under close OED faculty supervision, have been given the assignment to complete detailed implementation plans for local governments throughout Virginia.

Appomattox Mayor Spiggle contacted Virginia Tech in late 2002 about its PMB program after reading about similar projects completed over the past three years. During the fall 2003 semester, the graduate students assigned to his town worked closely with Spiggle and Town Manager David Garrett to develop objectives to measure and benchmark the Public Works, Town Administration, and Wastewater Treatment departments. The future public administrators from Tech evaluated the departments and also made recommendations for improving governmental performance, which they presented to the Appomattox Town Council in January.

For more information on this project, contact Chad Miller at (540) 231-8324. For more information about the student presentation at the Appomattox Town Council meeting, contact David Garrett at (434) 352-8268.