King County’s Government Relations Functions: No Evidence Consolidation Would Improve Effectiveness
September 25, 2019
King County employs at least 24 people with specific government relations responsibilities. These individuals work across King County in departments ranging from Natural Resources and Parks to the Department of Local Services. We conducted this review in response to a proviso in the 2019–2020 King County Budget. We did not find evidence that a consolidated government relations office would increase efficiency or effectiveness of government relations functions, which was one of the questions posed in the proviso [King County Ordinance 18835].
The King County Council mandated the Auditor’s Office conduct an audit of King County’s government relations functions. The Council posed several questions about the cost and composition of the county’s government relations functions as well as asking for a comparison of King County’s decentralized government relations functions compared to a consolidated government relations office. An effective government relations function is a vital contributing factor for local governments to achieve their goals and transfer from state and federal sources represent a substantial proportion of revenue.
We found no evidence that consolidating King County’s currently decentralized government relations functions into a single office would improve efficiency or effectiveness. We identified about $4.7 million in annual costs for government relations, with the majority going toward salaries and benefits of the twenty-four staff who work on government relations across the county. Officials with peer jurisdictions and national and state-level organizations spoke positively about King County’s government relations staff and the effectives of the function overall.
We made no recommendations in this report.
Grant Dailey and Ben Thompson conducted this review. If you have any questions or would like more information, please call the King County Auditor's Office at 206-477-1033 or contact us by email at KCAO@kingcounty.gov.