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Get to Know the Public Organization You Serve

Learn about the public organization’s mandate or mission, which may be found in state law or a local ordinance.

A public organization’s mandate often identifies the scope of its authority to carry out its public purpose or service, as well as any procedures governing how it achieves its mission and any regulations or by-laws that its officers or appointees must follow.

Learn about how the public organization fulfills its mission.

Read about the programs it operates and the segments of the public it serves. Ask for past annual reports and budgets, as well as a current organizational chart. Learn about recent achievements and upcoming initiatives or special projects. (The State Auditor conducts periodic audits of state agencies, quasi-state agencies and housing authorities. If you serve on such a board, check the State Auditor's webpage for audit reports on your public organization).

Board members learning about public organization

Questions to Ask About Your Organization

The answers to these questions will help you understand how the public organization operates and will enable you to become an effective and involved board member.

Ask:

  • What is the public organization's mission or mandate?
  • What rules, regulations or by-laws govern the public organization, if any?

Delve deeper and ask:

  • How does the organization carry out its mission or purpose?
  • How is the organization structured?
  • What is the organization's annual budget? Who sets the budget, and who decides how it is spent?
  • Who are the senior officials in the organization, and what are their roles?
  • What are the major projects or objectives that the public organization is considering over the next few years? What will be the projected cost of these projects?
  • Are the proposed projects and objectives consistent with the mission of the public organization and with the organization's budget and operations?

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