Bringing metrics and accountability to government – Commercial Appeal

At peak time, 6 p.m., the average 911 call answer time is 150 seconds. In June, 10,000 youths participated in athletic activities. In August, 244 complaints about potholes were resolved in an average of 11 days, with over 60 percent in less than 5 days.

This data reflects problems and progress of our city in providing services to citizens. A decade ago, we did not gather such detailed metrics, nor did we know what to do with them. Today and in the future, we cannot function without such metrics.

And so, new Mayor Jim Strickland has made the use of metrics one of his highest priorities and said he will hold city officials accountable for their performance. Mayor Strickland’s Metrics and Accountability Team took on the challenge to draw a road map on how the mayor can do this.

In our search, we did not need to go far to find an internationally renowned organization that has mastered metrics and delivers service excellence: FedEx. We wondered what can city government learn from FedEx on how to bring effectiveness and efficiency to work processes?

Learning from business leadership, our team developed a strategic process for the city of Memphis, which we call Quality-Focused Government.

The first phase of a Quality-Focused Government is assessment. We need to know what metrics and processes we have in place to evaluate the delivery of all city services. In fact, the city of Germantown has already done such an assessment.

The second phase is measurement. Opinion and anecdotes are good for water cooler conversation but when the mayor or the City Council have to make key decisions, they need facts based on established measurements benchmarked with national statistics, and this data needs to be publicly available such as website memfacts.org.

The third phase is management. A critical function of city government is to manage a budget of more than $600 million, personnel of about 7,000 employees and provide lifesaving services like fire, police and EMS, as well as quality of life services like libraries, clean parks and community centers.

High-performing corporations use quality tools like process flow diagrams and run charts to manage every single process within their organization. The mayor needs directors and managers accountable not just for the right outcome, such as reduction in blight, but also the right set of processes, such as weekly number of houses boarded or lawns mowed, which will lead to a lower blight rate.

The fourth phase is improvement. The status quo is unacceptable, even for the well-performing city departments. We need to take a businesslike approach for continuous quality improvement of city services. There are tried and tested methodologies, like PDSA — Plan, Do, Study, Act.

Our vision is service excellence in city services. Our strategy is Quality-Focused Government. Our method is to assess, measure, manage and improve city services, which will lead to a more efficient, effective and accountable government.

The proverb in business is “We can only manage what we measure.” Our transition team believes the same is true with government.

Metrics and Accountability Team members are co-chairs Manoj Jain and Kim Hackney, and Gloria Boyland, Don Fisher, Brenda Jones, Daniel Clark, Dan Poje, Adam Alexander and Kyle Capstick.

Source: Commercial Appeal

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