Step 9: CountyStat: Responsive, Data-Driven & Accountable Government
CountyStat is a county version of both CompStat, an approach pioneered by New York City and credited with reducing crime by targeting resources, and the award-winning Citistat credited with saving millions across several departments in Baltimore City. Baltimore's Citistat won the Harvard University’s Innovation in Government Award in 2004.32
CountyStat would bring greater accountability and a data-driven approach to everyday management and long term planning in government. It is a process of continually evaluating county performance at the highest levels, and reviewing opportunities to improve coordination and formulate strategies - not just during annual budget reviews.
Similar to Citistat, meetings might be convened twice a month, between the County Executive, agency heads, and top staff to report and answer questions on agency performance and priority initiatives. Data would be carefully analyzed, performance trends closely monitored, and strategies to achieve improved performance developed.
All Leaders in the “Hot Seat”…Baltimore’s Citistat Example
"In meetings every other week, the director of every department in the City of Baltimore takes the“hot seat” in a meeting room on the sixth floor of City Hall. Flanked by colleagues, the department head stands at a podium and answers a series of questions from a panel headed by Mayor Martin O’Malley and his top aides. The discussion addresses every issue facing the department – staffing levels, absenteeism, overtime, deployment of staff, department facilities and vehicles, response rates for citizen requests, capital budgeting, and more. As the conversation takes place, staff members project images on two giant screens behind the podium. The images show maps, charts, graphs, spreadsheets, and photographs – all designed to illustrate how well or how poorly the department is doing its job." 33
The Cost Savings34…
In its first 11 months of use, CitiStat cost Baltimore $285,000 - including four fulltime staffers, computer equipment and software, and new furniture for the CitiStat room. Not counting improved service delivery, officials estimate savings of $13.2 million - $6 million in overtime, $5 million in reduced costs and increased revenues, and $1.2 million in reduced absenteeism.
Baltimore officials say that they realized over $43 million in cost savings, cost avoidances, and revenue enhancements in the first three years of CitiStat – a figure that does not take into account the value of more effective and equitable municipal services.
Making the Leap from Good to Great in Government:
My Approach to Building a Team & Managing Prince George’s County
"The right people on the bus…the wrong people off the bus…the right people in the right seats."
- Jim Collins, author of bestselling Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap ... And Others Don’t.
First Who, Then What…
As a well-known management expert has said, in selecting a team to build any organization that seeks to be great and not just good, the approach should be: first who, then what.35
- All agency heads must share the core values of the government that I am trying to build – great government and not just good government. These are not values that can be developed. Agency heads must come to the job with them.
- No agency head should require tight management. Accountability is key, and all agency leaders require guidance, leading, knowledge and an understanding of their roles. At no time should a County Executive have to compensate for a department head or manage them into the right behavior.
- All department heads should have exceptional capability. Even if the leader of an agency is not the best in their field, they should have the ability and potential to be the best in their field.
- All department heads should understand the difference between having a job and holding a responsibility. If they see a hole, they feel the need to fill it and make it better.
- In evaluating performance, if it were a hiring decision all over again, then would you still hire the person?
Overall, the goal is always to be fair and decent to the people you ask to join your team, but to require the best and focused on producing the best.
32 Baltimore Citistat. http://www.ci.baltimore.md.us/government/citistat/
33 Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston (2003)
35 Jim Collins is the author of Good to Great, Built to Last and How the Mighty Fall