Transparency and Accountability in Action
There is an old apocryphal story about Andrew Carnegie, who made his fortune founding US Steel. While making rounds in one of his steel mills he asked the day foreman how many tons had been produced that day. The foreman told him six were produced. Carnegie then took a piece of chalk and wrote a big “6” on the floor. When the shift changed and the night foreman arrived, he asked the day-foreman what the “6” meant. The day foreman replied that he wasn’t sure, but that Mr. Carnegie had written it on the floor after asking how many tons of steel had been produced on his shift. When the day foreman returned the next day, he found a line though the “6” and a “7” written next to it. Days later, that number had a line through it, and so on. The number continued to rise. While this story is most probably fiction, it demonstrates a good point – by establishing a goal, communicating and measuring it, you can improve performance.
Carnegie’s management technique – a primitive form of performance management or managing towards metrics - took off in private sector in the next century. Manufacturing, transportation, services, retail and other industries all started to implement performance management programs - establishing and communicating goals, measure progress towards them, and adjusting as they went along in a continuous cycle of improvement.
However, in Government, typically a “late adopter” of technology and resistant to change, it took a while for performance management techniques to gain traction. Even today, few public sector organizations implement its techniques. However, when they do, the benefits can be amazing.
As a case study I would cite the City of Irving Texas, poster-child for improving transparency, accountability, financial and operational performance by utilizing balanced scorecard and performance management methodologies.
The City of Irving TX is home to “America’s team” (the Dallas Cowboys – for those of you who aren’t football fans). A city of 200K+ residents, which swells to twice that number during working hours, as the city draws workers from surrounding areas between Dallas and Fort Worth, operating under a council/City Manager form of government.
In 2006 the city embarked on a strategic plan to guide growth, development and operations; and established a strategic plan with goals and key performance indicators based on input from City Council, staff, residents, visitors, and businesses. What’s more, the City of Irving created a website that communicates the results to everyone inside and outside city government.
Since 2007, Irving has realized over $40 million in cost savings and avoidance and has gained over 50,000 hours in productivity through the elimination of redundant work and the implementation of streamlined business practices through continuous improvement, innovation and benchmarking. Departments and employees are linked to citywide strategic plan goals, strategies, actions and key performance indicators. Employees continually review customer input, work processes and measure scorecards to identify opportunities for organizational improvements.
For their efforts the city of Irving was a recipient of the many awards - including the Texas Award for Performance Excellence (TAPE), Sunny Awards, and even the prestigious Malcolm-Baldridge National Quality Award in 2012. The city is only the second municipality in the nation to receive this award in the program’s 25-year history and the city was recognized for its fiscal achievement, citizen feedback efforts, process improvement results, cross-functional teams, and strong strategic planning process.
I invite you to join us for an informative webcast presented by Aimee Kaslik, Chief Innovation and Performance Officer, City of Irving, Texas to hear our how the City of Irving implemented a performance management system, allowing it to:
- Make better data-driven decisions
- Manage, measure, and improve performance
- Monitor trends and make strategic planning and budgeting decisions
- Provide a cleaner, safer, and better overall quality of life for its citizens