Accountability, oversight, transparency essential in our city’s government

Published 9:33 pm Saturday, April 23, 2016

“We need, first of all, for there to be accountability, for there to be somebody who is responsible for enforcing standards and holding people’s feet to the fire.” 

—Jennifer Granholm,

 former governor of Michigan

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I am often asked why I continuously speak about the importance of accountability, oversight, and transparency in government. The answer is simple. I truly believe that these principles are essential to efficient and effective government.

Too many times in our society, we see politicians abuse the office that they took an oath to uphold. They get comfortable and complacent in their positions of “power” and forget about the responsibility and commitment that citizens have entrusted upon them. Moreover, they fail to understand that it is critical to provide leadership, oversight, and guidance to ensure the highest quality of services are being administered to the people they govern every day.

For me, being an elected official has never been a job, but rather a “calling.” It is a calling to serve and not be served.

It is a calling from a higher power who gives me the strength, courage, and conviction to try to make the best decisions I can that will benefit the individuals I serve.

Every day, I come to my office knowing the great responsibility that I have in being mayor of the City of Vicksburg. Citizens call with complaints; departments call with requests; and friends call with opinions.

As mayor, it is imperative that I have a singular focus of providing accountability, oversight, and transparency in everything that I do. I must provide the structure and leadership that is necessary for the business of the city to be conducted in an efficient manner. It is not about power. On the contrary, it is about authority.

As mayor, I want the authority and responsibility of leading this city and being accountable to you, the people. It is my belief that the citizens of Vicksburg want the mayor to have that authority and responsibility as well. Department heads and employees should fully understand who is in charge. They should know that they will be held accountable for their work and their actions when they are employed with the City of Vicksburg.

In my opinion, we have the best employees in the world working for our city. I do my best to convey that message to them on a regular basis.

Nevertheless, there should still be oversight and evaluation mechanisms in place to ensure that services are rendered and tasks are accomplished in an effective, safe, and professional way.

Departments should continuously update job descriptions, maintain succession plans, and engage in cross-training.

I am a firm believer in functional responsibility. When everyone in a department is held accountable for his or her function within that department, government is more efficient. Consequently, the highest quality of service is provided for the citizens of Vicksburg at the least cost to the taxpayer.

Transparency is obviously another component that underlies efficient government. Transparency promotes accountability.

There should always be a high level of openness, public participation, and collaboration in city government. Citizens should feel that their public officials can be trusted and that information is easily accessible.

This is how we, as city leaders, are held accountable.

Since becoming mayor, I have encouraged the use of more online information regarding city services, as well as, promoted the dissemination of information in a timely manner so citizens can stay updated on the city’s finances, projects, and events.

All of the aforementioned statements contribute to the reasons as to why changing an outdated 1912 charter is so important. I’m glad you asked!

Please understand, by no means am I a micro-manager or a dictator. I firmly believe in the motto that:

“Good leaders create a well-structured, well-trained, and fully-functioning organization, and         stand out of the way and let other people get on with their jobs.”

However, in my 25-plus years of being in public office and living in Vicksburg for 63 years, I have come to realize that accountability, oversight, and transparency are important components that are needed for productive government.

I have a true passion and love for our great city. With your prayers, I will continue to work tirelessly to make everyone proud to call Vicksburg “home.”

Remember, “I am who I am, I am what I am, and I am who I am and what I am, wherever I am.”

George Flaggs Jr. is mayor of the City of Vicksburg. You may reach him at