Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

From "Get 'R Done" To "Fill 'R Up"

Oh my goodness. Were some people fortunate that only a Section 9 financial audit of WUC was undertaken? If such an audit had been undertaken of the City vehicle fleet, it would have received a clean bill of health since operations would NOT have been part of the auditors' mandate, only finances!

I wonder what a Section 10 audit or an Auditor-General or forensic audit of WUC would have uncovered. Councillor Marra has NO choice now after the latest City financial fiasco but to demand a full investigation into WUC!

Heartiest congratulations to the Mayor for taking decisive action in 2004 that is now bearing fruit only 4 years later, a record time for his Administration. Can you imagine what the Service Delivery Review report will uncover 30 months from now just before he leaves us as Mayor! I would guess that he will take credit for asking for such a review rather than commenting on what it uncovered during his two terms as Mayor. Just like now.

Here is his comment as reported in the Star concerning the fleet mess:
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said the report confirms why the city auditor position and the audit committee were formed in 2004 in the wake of the MFP scandal.

    He vowed council would move "deeper into the organization" to conduct similar audits if determined necessary."

Now mind you, it is better than nothing but in Eddie's Mayoral platform, he did say that the would do the following:

  • "Detailed Audit of All Departments
    We need a starting point, a place to know where we are so that we can judge how well we do when we look at results.

    We will conduct in-depth audits of all of our departments to assess where we stand, and to identify inefficiencies and implement sound management principles across the corporation."

If that promise had been kept and promptly, wouldn't the fleet operations mess have been discovered years ago?

I decided to go back to Eddie's platform when he first ran for Mayor and see what else Eddie might have done to make things better in Windsor from a management perspective. In reality, the fleet report is nothing more than a complete failure of management. And what was supposed to ensure that something like this would never happen... CITISTAT.

You remember CITISTAT don't you? In looking at what virtues that system had, you will see that it would help solve a number of our problems including overtime costs to graffiti to "Guns, gangs and drugs," to the vacant homes, matters that have plagued Eddie's tenure as Mayor. It certainly would have saved us millions of dollars over the years that Eddie has been Mayor so that we wouldn't have to worry about not buying books for the Library System or laying off crossing guards or not helping fund the Buskers Festival.

Read what he wrote about CITISTAT in his Platform and then ask the question why it is never been brought into Windsor since it was the main plank of his platform to help him beat Bill Marra the first time around when he ran for Mayor. My recollection is well is that the cost of introducing the entire CITISTAT system was virtually nothing since these City of Baltimore would have helped trained our officials as well.

The lack of implementation of CITISTAT has always mystified me. Who has been opposing it? I wonder if CITISTAT would have turned up other financial skeletons. It looks like we may never know!

Here is some fun for Councillor Marra: he should introduce a Motion to demand that it be put into operation immediately. Such irony!



Windsorites deserve a City government that is effective, cost-efficient, and responsive to their needs – a government that gets the job done right, on time, and within budget; a government that is accountable to all Windsor residents. As Mayor of Windsor, I will transform the way our City government does business by investigating and then implementing the best elements of new management processes and technologies. One such outstanding system deserves close examination for application in Windsor; it is an innovative and highly successful management strategy called CitiStat.

What is CitiStat?

Under Rudolph Giuliani’s administration, the New York City Police Department introduced a police management system that combined technology and weekly accountability sessions to reduce crime. They called it ComStat. Mayor O’Malley of Baltimore expanded on the successful program to track all of Baltimore’s operations and services. He called this expanded program CitiStat.

Using computer pin mapping, biweekly data collection, and analysis and accountability sessions, ComStat helped the NYPD to significantly reduce crime, restore public trust and motivate police officers. Similarly, Mayor O’Malley sought to build the kind of information and control system that would enhance the capacity of Baltimore’s city departments to identify, respond to, and anticipate problems as they were emerging. This new, extended system, CitiStat, resulted in Baltimore claiming savings of $13 million dollars the first fiscal year. In the second fiscal year, Baltimore saved an additional $30 million. In year three, all of Baltimore city agencies participated in CitiStat, resulting in cumulative savings of more than $40 million, including about $10 million in reduced overtime, $5 million in reduced operational costs, and $4 million in increased revenue streams.

It’s a simple fact that you can’t manage what you don’t understand. CitiStat would allow Windsor to collect information on a real time basis and provide tools for rapidly evaluating the performance of a wide variety of city functions and concerns. These include everything from crime, graffiti, vacant buildings and sewer backups, to potholes and summer recreation programs. City agencies would be required to regularly measure their performance and to report on how well they serve the public.

The CitiStat Process

The CitiStat Process is a disciplined one. CitiStat participants are required to report financial and operational performance data on a biweekly basis. This information becomes the basis of each department’s CitiStat report. Each manager would be required to submit data to the CitiStat team for pre-meeting analysis, which would be the basis of the manager’s performance presentation at the weekly meeting with the Mayor, Councillors and the Executive Management Team.

A manager would be required to set out goals and objectives so that the CitiStat team would be able to audit the data and compare it with previous presentation’s objectives, to provide a summary for the CitiStat meeting. Accumulated over months, these reports become an excellent barometer of the department’s performance in a fiscal year.

The data would cover a wide variety of information. Public Works, for example, would submit data on everything from dirty alleys and missed trash pickup complaints to the number of sick days taken by workers in a particular division, and overtime rates. By reviewing the data and questioning the managers, City government would be able to quickly identify successes that could be shared among all Departments, and highlight areas requiring improvements.

Action plans would be developed to address problems immediately and corrective action plans assessed. Strategies would be developed and employed, and managers would be held accountable to results that were measured not yearly, quarterly, or even monthly, but on a week-to-week basis.

How CitiStat Will Improve City Government

CitiStat will enable the City to make better choices based on real-time data. The current practice does not allow for this type of discussion or analysis to occur. Council will be able to make budget decisions based, not on anecdotal information or “best estimates,” but on reliable, up-to-date facts.

City Government requires new techniques to learn how to maintain and improve municipal services, recognizing that resources are becoming increasingly scarce. Doing so will allow us to recognize and maintain desirable civic services without imposing massive tax increases.

By identifying problems areas more quickly, sharing successes, targeting waste, eliminating unnecessary subsidies, re-engineering inefficient processes, increasing productivity and operational effectiveness and establishing measurable performance standards, the City will do more with less, and live within our means.

What successes can we expect CitiStat to help generate?

CitiStat is based on 4 pillars:
  1. Accurate and timely intelligence that is clearly communicated to everyone who can help do something about it
  2. Rapid and synchronous deployment of resources to address problems
  3. Using effective tactics and strategies
  4. Follow-up and assessment.

As stated above, Baltimore claims outstanding success with the system: savings of $13million dollars the first year and another estimated $30 million, in year two.

Clearly a process that is disciplined, measurable, performance and goal-oriented that works in “real-time” is a vast improvement over Windsor’s current practices. CitiStat provides the means by which decision makers have control over the operations of Government and the Departments are obligated to meet their targets or explain deficiencies.

More importantly, valuable information is generated quickly and efficiently, not at some indeterminate time in the future when it is less “actionable.” Costs can be controlled and waste can be identified more quickly, so corrective actions can be taken. Here are some examples of what CitiStat has helped other City Governments achieve:

  1. Reduced and controlled the City’s use of overtime and sick leave. In less than a full year of participating in the program, Baltimore realized approximately $6 million in overtime savings.
  2. Saved Millions in Reduced Operation Costs
  3. Saved Millions in Increased Revenue Streams
  4. Saved Millions in Reduced absenteeism and accident time
  5. Saved Million by eliminating costly, low-priority purchases
  6. Rewarded employees in Departments whose efforts exceed objectives
  7. More than 2,700 illegal dumping grounds inside Baltimore have been slashed to fewer than 200
  8. Reduction in crime (NYC violent crime declined 47.6% and property crime declined 48.8%)
  9. Cleaned and boarded up 1,000 vacant homes in three weeks
  10. Potholes were filled within 48 hours
  11. Trash routes were reshaped
  12. The savings actually allowed new employees to be hired to help improve service to citizens
    Reduced the City’s potential liability costs through proactive risk assessments and management
  13. CitiStat identified a number of costly projects, planned expenses and troublesome practices that necessitated intervention
  14. Department information was placed online for citizen review and increased public accountability
  15. DrugStat measured how well drug treatment centres were doing their jobs; KidStat measured the city’s efforts at reducing youth violence.

CitiStat relies on Microsoft Excel for the spreadsheets and Arcview mapping software, both of which are available to the City. Baltimore has not trademarked the CitiStat name and encourages other cities to participate by not charging for training. It actively invites cities to observe CitiStat operations in Baltimore.

Mayor O’Malley of Baltimore said “CitiStat brings the sense of urgency that we need around here. It has already produced a much deeper and faster culture of accountability,” the mayor said. It has produced millions in savings. Citizens of Windsor should expect no less.