Response: It varies. In some places a MOU may work well, while in others it may not work at all or, if it does, very poorly. The difference seems to be the leadership, vision and mind-set of the people involved, both in the agency and in the participants.
Where the MOU does work well, it appears to depend on: (1) a strong rapport between the Radio Officer and the agency administrator who are in relatively constant contact and are "tuned in" to each other; and (2) a strong training program (such as the Incident Command System, Prowords, Tactical Calls); and a willingness to terminate those not contributing to the RACES program. Some clubs and the ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) of the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) has used a MOU with considerable effectiveness in some areas of the country.
However, where the ARES MOU has been quite successful occassional reports indicate that some participants have been unclear as to whether they were activated under ARES or RACES in a call out. Hence, an MOU can cause a problem if leaders fail to realize that the demarcation line between the two services can be obliterated in the heat of an emergency. Possibly it was where the ARES EC and the RACES Radio Officer was the same person and failed to clearly delineate which was which.
Unfortunately, where jurisdictions have found the MOU NOT to be effective, the tendency is to avoid both the ARES and RACES, or let the unit with the MOU "die on the vine" as the saying goes.
However, a positive factor is that as governments learn of the Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) they choose that in order (1) to have support of all Public Safety communications systems, not just Amateur Radio, (2) and to have unit participants more involved in agency affairs on a day-to-day basis for closer familarization with agency protocol, people & activities. Essentially, such agencies seem to say: "We want people that WILL respond when called upon, serve as needed, and do so without publicity, and UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE AGENCY; and that we MAY need only a FEW SELECT PEOPLE with special talents and interests, not an entire group en masse; but either way, it is our call."