New research shows that many county governments turn to county administrators to help deliver core services like health care, criminal justice, public infrastructure and economic development. More than four out of 10 county governments appoint county administrators to implement board
policies, prepare annual budgets and run daily operations that serve millions of residents, according
to research released today by the National Association of Counties (NACo).An Overview of County Administration: Appointed County Administrators is a comprehensive analysis of county administrators across the country and by region.Key findings include:
- County administrators play a major role in overseeing county operations.
Forty four percent of county administrators have a high level of authority, appointing and removing department heads, supervising departments, preparing budgets and managing day to day operations. Another group of county administrators, about a third of them, are mainly in charge of the daily operations of the county and the preparation of the annual budget.
The remaining administrators have lower levels of authority, coordinating between departments, ensuring administrative action on board policies and preparing draft ordinances and reports.
- Almost half of counties 43 percent or 1,322 counties have administrators. Counties of varying sizes, from Petroleum County, Mont. (485 residents) to Los Angeles County, Calif. (more than 10 million residents) appoint county administrators.
- Individuals who perform county administrator functions hold 115 different titles. These employees hold the position of county administrator or have other positions like a county clerk with additional country administrator duties, depending on the governance structure and state statutes. Those primarily dedicated to performing county administrator duties have one of more than 100 other titles like “chief administrative officer” or “county director.”
“Professional county administrators can be instrumental in fulfilling the vast responsibilities of county
governments,” said McHenry County, Ill. Administrator Peter Austin, the incoming president of the
National Association of County Administrators. “County managers or administrators are uniquely positioned to understand all the services counties provide and make level headed recommendations to the elected officials.” The report provides regional snapshots of the data, an analysis of state and county legislation on county administrators and a historical perspective on the trend towards formalizing the county administrator role.