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IID Overhauls Board Policy for Enhanced Governance, Oversight, and Strategic Direction

-Editorial

The Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors approved a new set of board policies during its regular meeting that will help guide the operational and strategic direction of the district.

The Board’s action to adopt the new governance system, currently used with success by other public utilities including the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, establishes a new structure and culture of strategic policy governance at IID. 

“The Board Policy will focus current and future boards on effectively achieving long-term results for the benefit of our communities and customers,” said IID Board President Alex Cardenas. 

Shortly after the current board’s seating in December 2022, the Board of Directors expressed an interest in renewing its governance process. The district retained Leading Resources, Inc. to work with the Board, management, and the Policy Committee to facilitate a series of meetings and focused discussions that have resulted in the final strategic governance framework.

“I do applaud the Board for taking this step,” said General Manager Jamie Asbury. “It is going to allow the Board to set strategic policy and allow staff to run the day-to-day business of the IID. It frees up the general manager to make business decisions and allows the organization to run in a more business-like manner.”

Adding that she sees it as a positive step forward, Asbury noted that the new Board Policy will require a “significant amount of accountability” on herself, management, and staff to work and operate at a higher level. “This gives us the tools we need as an organization to carry out the mission and vision of the district continuously,” she continued.

The new Board Policy replaces the Board of Directors Governance Manual adopted in 2007 and establishes governance process policies clarifying the board’s responsibilities, board-staff linkage policies defining the board’s collective relationship with, and delegations to, the general manager and management team, and strategic direction policies that focus on long-term results and performance metrics.

“The Board Policy sets standards as high-minded as IID’s mission as a consumer-owned utility — to provide water and power essential to life and progress for the communities we serve,” said IID Board Vice President JB Hamby. “This will mark a significant shift in the district’s performance and culture moving forward compared to anything anyone has been used to at IID for at least half a century.” 

He continued, “We’ve worked over the past year to craft policies that will resolve past issues, ensure the district continuously monitors and improves our performance, and establish long-term goals to get us to a place that our communities and customers deserve.”

The Board Policy is composed of 36 individual policies covering three separate policy areas: governance process, board-staff linkage, and strategic direction.

The governance process policies lay out the board’s purpose, focus, conduct, and responsibilities; agenda planning; roles and responsibilities of board officers and committees; and other administrative matters. 

The board-staff linkage policies establish the unity of control whereby only action taken or direction given by the board as a whole is binding on management and staff; the relationship between the board and the general manager, general counsel, and internal auditor is defined; as well as topical delegations of authority to the general manager ranging from budget and strategic planning, procurement, and water and power related transactions.

The board’s strategic direction policies establish specific goals and performance metrics on subjects including the district’s mission and vision, customer relations, asset management, competitive rates and access to credit markets, reliability, employee relations and safety, and environmental leadership, among others.

Beyond adopting the Board Policy, the board and management will be responsible at each meeting for monitoring adherence to policies according to a schedule and considering updates for optimal performance.

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