Summer 1986 // Volume 24 // Number 2 // Ideas at Work // 2IAW2

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Memoranda - A Management Tool


Charles R. Perkins
Southeast District Extension Director
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University - Windsor

Local jurisdictions have been asked to increase their cost/share for many local social and economic programs. This trend has made it more difficult to obtain funds from local governments for Cooperative Extension work. This is especially true in states where funds for Extension programs are negotiated annually.

In preparing a presentation on "Formal Relations with County Coordinating Boards," I surveyed the 15 Southern Region directors. Responses in dicated that the eight states having formal "Memoranda of Understanding" with local governments view them as a good managerial tool.

Formal memoranda are helping Extension to operate in a business-like manner and improve Extension's image and credibility. Memoranda build positive relationships with local governmental jurisdictions. They're helping with both long-range resource use and program planning.

The survey suggests that the strengths far exceed any weaknesses associated with using these memoranda. I believe that many of the weaknesses indicated in the survey could be corrected by revising existing memoranda to include the following recommended components:

  1. Statement of Cooperative Extension's purpose and mission.
  2. Statement of contribution that state Extension and local governments will share jointly and in what proportions. The following items might be included:
    1. Salary and fringe benefits.
    2. Demonstration materials.
    3. Travel.
    4. Equipment.
    5. Other support services such as computer costs, secretarial help, and in-service training.
  3. Contributions the state will provide separately.
  4. Contributions the local government will provide separately.
  5. Clear statement about who will be responsible for recruitment, employment, and staff management.
  6. Policies to be followed in respect to Civil Rights/EEO/Affirmative Action/Public Notification.

In addition, memoranda should:

  1. Be continuous from year to year.
  2. Allow amendments with given time notice by either party.
  3. Require only the minimum necessary signatures.
  4. Be short, concise, and in outline format.