New Orleans: The road to becoming a 21st century government (part 1)
In 2010, IBM Citizenship created the Smarter Cities Challenge to help 100 cities over a three-year period. IBM sends 6 of our best and brightest individuals to a given city to help them address some of the critical challenges facing their city. In 2011 alone, IBM went to 26 cities across the world and so far, the city leaders have been more than-pleased with IBM’s sense of global citizenship.
In September of 2011, 6 IBM subject matter experts, thought leaders, executives and IBM master inventors contributed their time and expertise to the City of New Orleans. The following blog is Part 1 of a 2 part blog on the experience and solutions developed for the City of New Orleans. The blog is authored by IBM Rational’s own Jim Amsden - Software Architect, Government IndustrySolutions.
Envisioning a 21st Century Government in New Orleans
New Orleans is a fantastic city that has had its share of challenges over the last few years. We spent the first week doing discovery: interviewing and meeting Mayor Mitchell Landrieu, many members of his staff, community leaders, the US Army Corps of Engineers, representatives from Tulane University, and the local IBM team. We collected a virtual library of documents and held workshops to explore key issues in greater depth. Over the course of the three week period we met with over 60 people representing a wide cross-section of perspectives and interests who provided us with a view of the beauty and potential of the City of New Orleans, as well as the challenges the city faces in realizing that potential. We met some truly fantastic people with incredible capabilities and insight, many of whom left lasting impressions on us all.
We spent the second week establishing the scope of the problem, attempting to address not only the issues raised in the New Orleans SSC application, but also those re-enforced through the discovery process. Our scope was to address planning and performance management issues to help the city determine what services they should provide, at what service levels, and how should they provide them efficiently, effectively, and within available resources in order to maximize outcomes delivered to its citizens. In order to do that, we also had to address the creation of an effective Information Supply Chain to provide the information needed to do the planning and performance assessment, and to drive appropriate actions for closing gaps between needs and capabilities.
We then analyzed our findings from the discovery process and formed a set of hypothesis that organized and guided our vision, recommendations and roadmap for enabling New Orleans to become a 21st century City. Our findings centered around four areas or themes. The first was Mayor Landrieu’s vision for 21st Century Government: establishing a culture of performance through objective metrics and actions that drive how government organizations work in order to do more with less. The Mayor wants to be able to see, hear and know how the city is performing against priorities in order to create appropriate actions for closing any required performance gaps. The second theme was Active Community Partnering. No city has the resources required to address all problems. Partnering with the community establishes a collaborative environment in which citizen priorities and needs can be accurately assessed and the hard choices that have to be made can be shared between the service consumers and providers. Open government is needed to provide citizens the information they need in order to contribute to their government and to achieve common good. The third theme was Outcome Based Culture, which recognizes that the role of government is to deliver outcomes that address citizen needs, at a price they are willing to pay. The City’s planning process, Budgeting for Outcomes, was designed to support delivering the most high-priority outcomes possible with available revenue. Key performance indicators are established to ensure operations deliver the planned outcomes, helping realize citizen needs and city goals. The final theme was Data Informed Decision Making, which includes ensuring decisions, actions and operations were driven and informed by complete, accurate, timely and secure data to the stakeholders that need it, and in a form that they can consume.
In summary, our vision for helping New Orleans become a 21st Century Government, to enable the Mayor to see, to hear, and to know what is happening and how to act involves addressing three areas: Planning and Performance Management, Community Partnering and Information Supply Chain. A special thanks goes to Okumura-san for capturing this vision.
Getting the most and not using much: Planning & Performance Management
New Orleans, like cities around the world, is involved in a large number of integrated, interconnected businesses that deliver services vital to its citizens. Managing these programs, services, processes and resources effectively is a challenge in its own right. But today’s cities are also in a constant state of fiscal crisis. Every year revenues trend downward as the result of the economic recessions, austerity measures, anti-tax initiatives, competition due to globalization and population shifts. At the same time, material and labor costs continue upward for core activities (education, medication and incarceration), new mandates, increased citizen needs, and aging infrastructure maintenance.
This is requiring most cities to find ways to do more with less, to optimize both what services they provide, and how they are delivered. New Orleans is addressing these challenges by utilizing a process called Budgeting for Outcomes (BFO) to determine the services and services levels that maximize outcomes addressing the highest priority citizen needs with available revenue. They also used a performance management process for assessing how well those services are provided and to identify actions for closing performance gaps.
We found that the BFO process was sound, but New Orleans experienced some challenges in achieving its expected benefit. BFO is driven by available revenue, prioritized goals, and provided city services. Uncertainty or late changes in revenue estimates can have a significant impact on program planning and management. Manual execution of the BFO process makes it difficult to assess different service offers or iterate the process when priorities change or new information is discovered. Prioritization needs to include the input of a broad range of stakeholders, including the voice of the citizen to identify and prioritize their needs.
Poor linkage between goals, service offers, outcomes, business plans, operations and performance indicators can make it harder to reason about different planning choices. Performance indicators may not be sufficiently linked with programs, services, processes and resources in order to ensure the right performance indicators are being assessed, and they have the right target values consistent with the service levels needed to deliver the required outcomes. This can limit the impact of performance assessments on operations.
Tools augment and support the BFO process to:
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In the area of performance management, we recommend that the city provide a balanced approach to performance assessment that addresses the whole lifecycle of planning, solution development, operations, assessment, and management and governance.
Tools can be used to develop “State of the City” scorecards supporting a mayoral dashboard and reports that provide the information needed to evaluate the impact of and close performance gaps. This not only helps automate the production of performance reports, but also enables their effective communication across all stakeholders to ensure appropriate commitment to timely actions that address multi-agency, cross-sector issues. It also provides a means to inform citizens so they can participate in their government, understanding what the government is doing and why, and provide feedback where needed.
These recommendations are predicated on the availability of accurate and timely information, which motivated the recommendation for an Information Supply Chain.
To Learn more about the concepts discussed in this blog download the whitepaper Government by Design: A Strategic Approach to Planning the Business of Government
Please stay tuned for part 2 of New Orleans Smarter Challenge story.