Transform Illinois

Transform Illinois is a collaborative of local elected officials, civic organizations and research institutions dedicated to promoting and supporting local government efficiency efforts in Illinois, to improve the delivery of public services and infrastructure.

From the Metropolitan Planning Council


Illinois’ tangled web of 7,000+ governmental units include nearly 50 different categories, many developed decades ago under different conditions. Regional demographics, geography and technology all have evolved, yet we’ve failed to adapt these government institutions and systems. The result is a highly fragmented governance system with thousands of units that do not directly improve our economy or quality of life:

  • Single-purpose units such as road districts often overlap with, and sometimes provide the same services as, multi-purpose units such as municipalities and counties.
  • The inability to track the thousands of units of government—and their annual spending of nearly $60 billion—creates costs and barriers to understanding how decisions are made, how resources are allocated and ultimately who is accountable.
  • The patchwork of units are not only financially inefficient, but can also make life more difficult for taxpayers. For example, DuPage county and township snowplow crews plow different roads, resulting in inefficient and uneven plowing.

Our fragmented governmental structures impact every resident of Illinois. As taxpayers, it’s easy to lose track of the dozens of taxing bodies staking claim to tax dollars, let alone how they are using that money. There is little to no accountability for residents on the quality of services these governments provide.


In 2015, Transform Illinois is committed to better coordinating research, advocacy, legislative and policy implementation activities that will improve the effectiveness of government service delivery in Illinois. Under the leadership of DuPage County Chairman Dan Cronin, and with the facilitation of the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Transform Illinois is a voluntary collection of individual lawmakers, research organizations, government officials and advocacy groups.

Transform Illinois also will expand awareness of the economic impact of the current structure of government in the state. This will include support for both voluntary and required measures to share services among units of government, eliminate redundant and ineffective units, revise funding mechanisms to create incentives for efficiency, and discourage the creation of new, single-purpose units of government unless there are demonstrable efficiency gains from doing so.


The unifying aim of this work is to adapt local governments to the realities of today and tomorrow in order to deliver high-quality services and infrastructure efficiently. Through Transform Illinois, MPC and its partners will research and propose solutions related to the function and effectiveness of the many units of government in Illinois.

Transform Illinois is the first coordinated effort to tackle government efficiency holistically. The goal is to accomplish the following:

  • Coordinate and consolidate research efforts to address gaps and assess the real impact of Illinois’ governance structures.
  • Develop a state legislative agenda for Transform Illinois with the goal of reducing structural barriers to the consolidation, collaboration and dissolution of governments.
  • Provide a platform for sharing ideas and amplifying findings. We will combine our resources to jointly educate the public through reports, events, conferences and various media outreach.
  • Develop a suite of tools to address government efficiency. Consolidation is not the only answer; sometimes the smarter path will be collaboration or disconnection.


  • Better Government Association
  • Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning
  • The Civic Federation
  • Illinois Campaign for Political Reform
  • Illinois Chamber of Commerce
  • Metropolitan Planning Council
  • Northern Illinois University, Center for Governmental Studies
  • Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois
  • Ill. Sen. Dan Biss (D-Evanston)
  • Dan Cronin, Chairman, DuPage County; Former Member of the Illinois General Assembly; Member of Lt. Governor Sanguinetti’s Local Government and Unfunded Mandates Task Force
  • Jeremy Custer, Chief of Staff, Ill. Sen. Tom Cullerton’s Office
  • M. Hill Hammock, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Planning Council; Former Chief Administrative Officer for Chicago Public Schools; Member of Lt. Governor Sanguinetti’s Local Government and Unfunded Mandates Task Force
  • John Keller, Legislative Coordinator, Cook County Bureau of Economic Development
  • Ill. Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook)
  • Ill. Rep. Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove)


The Efficiency Advantage: Stories of Collaboration & Innovation in Local Government
November 2, 2015, 8:30 a.m. to Noon

University of Illinois
Student Center East
750 S. Halsted St.
3rd Floor, Illinois A & B


Local governments across Illinois are feeling the pain of state budget cuts and reduced tax revenues. At the same time, residents and business owners continue to expect and deserve high-quality government services and infrastructure. The question facing almost every municipality, county and special service district in Illinois is: How can we continue to provide high-quality services in this extremely challenging environment?

Join us Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, for “The Efficiency Advantage,” a forum highlighting ways that local government leaders have adapted successfully to new financial realities by implementing reforms. Whether by cooperating with neighboring governments to deliver a shared service or by using data-driven performance indicators to identify operations improvements, local governments across Illinois are deploying innovative techniques to deliver high-quality services and infrastructure more efficiently.

The event will feature plenary remarks from Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, whose STAR Performance Management System is enabling the county’s 50 departments to achieve their goals more efficiently by tracking performance on a monthly basis and adapting based on data-driven indicators. A panel comprised of Glenview Village Manager Todd Hileman, lll. Sen. Linda Holmes (D-Plainfield), Lake County Board Chair Aaron Lawlor and Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Todd Maisch will discuss the challenges and benefits of their own local, county and state-focused efficiency initiatives.

At the conference, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin and Metropolitan Planning Council President MarySue Barrett will introduce Transform Illinois, a collaborative of elected officials, civic organizations and research institutions dedicated to promoting and supporting local government efficiency efforts in Illinois. The collaborative will announce its first Transformer Award winners, recognizing extraordinary government and citizen-led achievements in government efficiency.

Brought to you by Transform Illinois, a collaborative of elected officials, civic organizations and research institutions dedicated to promoting and supporting local government efficiency efforts in Illinois. Learn more about Transform Illinois and nominate a Transformer Award-worthy efficiency initiative by Oct. 5, 2015!



Shannon Sohl
Research Associate
Phone: 815-753-5851