Skip to content

The Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) is a regional service organization serving the twenty-six towns of Franklin County.

Franklin County is the most rural county in Massachusetts with a population of 72,000 over 725 square miles and located in the upper Connecticut River Valley in Western Massachusetts.

Locus Map Showing Franklin County's Location Within The Commonwealth.
Details

Mission

The FRCOG’s mission is to foster a vibrant, sustainable region for all, and to leverage resources that promote collaboration and efficiency within our member communities. We do this by providing advocacy, planning, and cooperative services – both proactively and in direct response to our member communities’ needs.

History

The FRCOG is the former county government, which was abolished in 1997 and reestablished as a Council of Governments. This changed the organization’s governance and financial structures. The FRCOG is a voluntary membership organization and the 26 municipalities of Franklin County are members; the membership assessment is as low as possible and pays for administration, advocacy and special projects (and is still $150,000 less than 1996 county government assessment). Participation in municipal service programs is voluntary and paid through separate assessments with assessment formulas unique to each program; federal and state grants fund other programs and are pursued to fund local and regional initiatives.

Today the FRCOG operates 12 programs with more than 50 staff. Our annual operating budget is approximately $5 million. The organization’s focus is overseen and directed by a 29-member Council.

FRCOG Organizational Chart

Click the image above to view the FRCOG Organizational Chart in a larger size.

What’s the difference between a Council of Governments and a Regional Planning Agency?

Part of what makes the FRCOG unique is that it is both a Council of Governments as well as the designated Regional Planning Agency for Franklin County.

Councils of Governments (COGs) are created to provide cooperative planning, coordination, and technical assistance on issues of mutual concern that cross jurisdictional lines. COGs have expanded authority, through the agreement of member municipalities, to respond to municipal need and issues.  Over the years the FRCOG has evolved to provide critical municipal services to the rural municipalities of Franklin County including building and health inspection services, procurement and collective purchasing of municipal products and services, and municipal accounting.

Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs) were created by Massachusetts General Law in 1974.  The purpose of Regional Planning Agencies is to comprehensively study, plan, and recommend how a region can protect and enhance its environment, economy and quality of life through the study of land use, natural resources, climate resiliency, economic development, transportation, and using analytical tools like Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Current Internal Projects

Prior to COVID-19, the regional understanding of the role of FRCOG staff during an emergency was to provide some technical assistance while towns collectively managed their individual response.

Throughout the pandemic, the level of technical assistance and operational coordination required of the FRCOG and the Emergency Preparedness Program was unprecedented, and required thoughtful analysis to inform our organizational role in the region during future large-scale or long-duration states of emergency.

Throughout 2022, the FRCOG engaged in organizational and programmatic After-Action Reviews to evaluate the role of the FRCOG overall, as well as the role of the Emergency Preparedness Program, in regional response coordination. In 2023, the FRCOG worked with Emergency Management Directors and first responders from our member communities to plan for a mutually agreed-upon regional coordination structure in emergencies that that exceed the capacities of municipal mutual aid.

We now have a draft Regional Coordination Plan, as well as a draft internal/organizational Preparedness Plan that details procedures for monitoring threats and activating the Coordination Plan. In 2024 we will finalize these plans, which will inform the maintenance and operation of a multi-agency coordination center for the region, and the development of trainings and exercises for FRCOG staff and municipal partners.

In 2024, we will begin the process to amend the Franklin Regional Council of Governments Charter.

In our 25-year history, we have never amended the Charter. This speaks to the strength and timeless quality of the Charter as it was written, but also speaks to the effort it takes to make Charter changes (it will ultimately require a 2/3 or greater vote of support by 2/3 of member towns at Town Meeting).

So why make changes to the FRCOG Charter now? Because 25 years is a long time–some of the structures and processes as written do not reflect the evolution of the FRCOG and the County.

Below is a presentation that walks through the proposed Charter changes and the process of making Charter changes.  We are also including the link to the Charter as it currently stands.

In the spring of 2022, the FRCOG formed an internal workgroup to evaluate and evolve the organization in areas regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. Comprised of FRCOG staff with a variety of social identities, the workgroup has representation at all organizational levels.

Throughout 2023, we moved at a deliberate and thoughtful pace to ensure all workgroup members had a common understanding of organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion concerns. During that time, we:

  • Purchased lending library materials on race and racism,
  • Sent a pilot group to equity and inclusion trainings,
  • Reviewed all job descriptions to identify equity issues, reduced requirement for educational attainment in many job descriptions, and
  • Allocated FY24 raises through a new formula that gave a higher percentage raise to the lowest paid workers in the organization.

In early 2024, we conducted a staff-wide organizational climate survey regarding experiences and perceptions of bias in the organization and in the work we do. As we enter the spring of 2024, we are beginning a yearlong training series with an all-staff Interrupting Racism training in April, followed by three sequential diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings every other month, concluding in late November.

We are still early in our process, and know that we will continue to learn a great deal along the way. We view our member communities as our partners in these efforts, and will provide updates on our progress.

Back To Top