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3. Generic Treatments

Generic treatments are applied in the earliest stages of the recovery process. Generic treatments provide some immediate stabilization and a sense that the situation is under control.  This buys time for a methodical approach to financial recovery.

Generic treatments are applied based on the recovery leader’s understanding of the situation, rather than on detailed analysis. Although generic treatments are safe to apply with minimal up-front diagnosis, they are only a short-term pain reliever.

Some examples of generic treatments include: hiring freezes; deferring capital projects; instituting new fees for service; and more aggressive revenue collection efforts.

The general characteristics of a good generic treatment include:
  • Short time-to-benefit. A yield occurs in a very short period of time.
  • Not complex. It is easy to understand the short-term benefits and long-term ramifications. It is also easy to explain to others.
  • Reversible. It can be undone with reasonable effort. Since generic treatments aren’t applied with much diagnosis, it is better if they can be reversed if needed. For example, a hiring freeze can be lifted or a new fee can be repealed or reduced.

The recovery leader should conduct a follow-up analysis of generic treatments to assess any negative long-term impacts. For example, deferring capital projects or maintenance may increase long-term costs or might introduce public safety risks.

Suggestions for generic retrenchment techniques can be found in this paper.


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