One of the key principles of the standards known as GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures) is the consistency principle. The GAAP consistency principle states that when a business has fixed a method for the accounting treatment of an item, it will enter all similar items in the exact same way in the future. Can code enforcement officers adopt a similar approach to enforcement activities?
The oxford dictionary defines consistency as “conformity in the application of something, typically that which is necessary for the sake of logic, accuracy, or fairness….The achievement of a level of performance that does not vary greatly in quality over time”; so for the purposes of this writing, I will use the working description of officer consistency (as it relates to code enforcement) as someone who handles similar situations in the same way, has the same attitudes towards people or things, or achieves the same level of success in resolving issues. With that said, is this practice productive in the regulatory code enforcement arena?
Should the community you serve expect a level of consistency from you and your code enforcement team? Should you be consistent in the quality of your work, in your reliability as a regulator and in completing (or following up) on the tasks you commit to?
Your answer should be a resounding yes!
For public service, especially regulatory enforcement, consistency is especially important. Just like a visit to your favorite restaurant results in the expectation of the same good food all the time, consistency builds reputations. In the case of enforcement, residents expect the same standards. Years of field work has shown me that each individual interaction (or each case) may be different, but the last thing people want is to be treated different than their neighbor– they want a certain level of predictability (the city gives everyone 10 days to cut their grass). As a regulator, how do you measure your level of effectiveness if what you are measuring isn’t performed consistently?
Lastly, if you want the community you serve to know that you are serious about compliance, establishing and maintaining a level of consistency maintains your message. In other words, the best enforcement efforts will fail without a dedication to consistency.
About the Author: Marcus Kellum, MMPA CCEA
Marcus Kellum has worked with local governments, private businesses and professional organizations across the country to train their regulatory, compliance and enforcement officers and inspectors. He spent nearly three decades in public service working with various cities and counties in Georgia, Colorado and the City of New York. He has held positions as code division manager, chief of enforcement, and department director. Marcus is a Certified Code Enforcement Administrator and holds a BS in criminal justice administration, and a master’s degree in management and public administration.