Survey indicates government economic development needs improvement

Crowe and Governing Institute study finds gap between resources needed and tools available


CHICAGO (May 20, 2014) – Most government leaders agree that the economic development of their state or municipality is increasing in importance, but 88 percent say their current economic development efforts are only somewhat effective or not effective at all, according to a recent survey. The study, published by Governing Institute and Crowe Horwath LLP, found that government leaders think their economic development processes could be improved by enhancing and updating business processes.

Crowe, one of the largest public accounting and consulting firms in the U.S., sponsored the research study, “Powering the Engine of Economic Development,” in which 168 senior state and local government officials were polled to assess the utilization, strategy and tools governments are using for economic development and job growth. Key findings include:

  • Overall, 82 percent of the respondents said that economic development is an area of increasing importance;
  • Seventy-four percent of the respondents thought there is a need to streamline business processes to enhance economic development;
  • Seventy-three percent of the respondents agreed with the statement, “We need to improve our reputation as an engine of economic growth and a good place to do business;”
  • Fifty-two percent of the participants said they believe their respective governments are prepared to offer incentives to lure other organizations; and
  • More than half of the respondents said that more modern technology systems would allow for more effective development.

In the study, government leaders revealed that the lack of modern technology and processes creates problems, such as uncoordinated strategies among departments and untracked or incorrectly tracked data.

“When individuals or departments within the same entity are unable to work easily with one another, it can lead to inconsistencies or even contradicting strategies,” said Bob Lazard, managing partner of Crowe government services. “The key is to find the right way to share data among disparate individuals and groups.”

For example, to monitor and record economic activities, governments can use automated tracking systems such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and grant management systems (GMS). Despite the value of such systems, only 15 percent of the survey respondents have a CRM system and fewer than a third of the respondents have an ERP system.

“Tracking activities such as grants or tax incentives is vital to making decisions in government entities,” said Lazard. “It’s possible that wrong or ill-informed decisions will be made when leaders are unable to measure the efficiency or revenue of an activity.”

Without automated tracking systems, coordination and well-defined benchmarks, it also may be difficult for government entities to prove their return on investments or initiatives. This can make it hard for the organization to exhibit the need for an initiative when money is being allocated from an already tight budget.

For more information on the study, please visit:


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Crowe Horwath LLP ( is one of the largest public accounting and consulting firms in the United States. Under its core purpose of "Building Value with Values®," Crowe uses its deep industry expertise to provide audit services to public and private entities while also helping clients reach their goals with tax, advisory, risk and performance services. Crowe and its subsidiaries have offices coast to coast with more than 3,000 personnel. The firm is recognized by many organizations as one of the country's best places to work. Crowe serves clients worldwide as an independent member of Crowe Horwath International, one of the largest global accounting networks in the world, consisting of more than 150 independent accounting and advisory services firms in more than 100 countries around the world.

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Amanda Reich
Amanda Reich