Jim Williams is Executive Director of the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization formed in 1988 to provide factual, objective research that will help to improve state and local government in Alabama.
Over the last 23 years, PARCA has published dozens of research reports covering various topics related to cities, counties, school systems, postsecondary education, and state government. At the local level, the PARCA staff is active in working with governments interested in planning, performance management, and other kinds of operating improvements. Under Jim's direction, the PARCA staff has won nine national awards for research excellence.
Jim has provided research support for a number of statewide commissions on tax reform, education reform, and economic development. He was instrumental in the initiation of the state's “SMART Governing” initiative and worked with the Finance Department thereafter to implement the program. In addition, he has worked with various state agencies on their planning structures and processes.
PARCA also works with local governments seeking improvements. Currently the staff is working with the cities of Montgomery, Mobile, and Decatur to implement its “Smart Budgeting” methodology, which incorporates techniques of performance management. PARCA analyzes school performance and publishes statewide test results annually. Using these data, the staff consults with local school systems and local education foundations. In recent months, presentations have been made in Montgomery, Birmingham, Dothan, Mobile, and Huntsville.
Before coming to Alabama in 1988, Jim worked for 16 years in nonprofit governmental research agencies located in Texas and Michigan. He is a past president of the Governmental Research Association of the United States, a professional organization of individuals in the governmental research field. He is a native of Mineola, Texas, and holds a bachelor's degree from Baylor University and a master's degree from the University of Michigan, both in political science.