‘RockStat’ to make City of Rockford more accountable, efficient

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11720904793861.jpg’, ‘Photo by Stuart R. Wahlin’, ‘Assistant City Administrator Julia Scott-Valdez said the administration hopes the new “RockStat” methodology will catch on in other local public services.‘);

Assistant City Administrator Julia Scott-Valdez presented a report to aldermen Feb. 20 regarding Baltimore’s CitiStat program. Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey (I) led a delegation earlier in the month to study Baltimore’s system before starting a similar one here called RockStat.

CitiStat, originally ComStat, was pioneered by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to improve efficiency and accountability.

Martin O’Malley, then mayor of Baltimore, saw the positive results the NYPD had with the system and successfully applied the same methodology to numerous agencies within his own city.

“Baltimore’s story is about, as they say, increasing dramatically the efficiency and effectiveness of their local government from a management standpoint,” Morrissey said. “We look to do the same.”

RockStat will begin with a new customer service request system, which the mayor hopes to have fully implemented by April.

The computer-based system captures data that can then be monitored and updated in real time.

When a citizen calls, for instance, to ask that a pothole be repaired, the request is logged electronically and followed up on to ensure it’s been taken care of quickly.

The City of Baltimore boasts all its pothole calls are resolved within 48 hours.

“We’re getting accurate and timely intelligence,” Scott-Valdez told aldermen, laying out the program’s tenets. “We are going to develop effective strategies and tactics. We are gonna allow for the rapid deployment of resources, and we are going to have relentless follow-ups and assessments.”

Morrissey explained: “I haven’t, up ’til now, been able to get that accurate and timely information to know whether we’re executing as we should be. You have to have accurate and timely information, the ability to grab it, map it, deploy resources based on it, and then continuously improve.”

RockStat will most likely begin with the Public Works Department, Morrissey indicated, but is expected to spread to more departments as city leaders get a handle on the new way of doing things.

“We will have to change the culture in City Hall,” Scott-Valdez said.

Morrissey and Scott-Valdez hope the philosophy will spread throughout other agencies in the community.

“I really hope,” Morrissey said, “that this becomes contagious.”

“Someday, we’re hoping to hear about SchoolStat, WinStat, ParkStat,” Scott-Valdez beamed.

Morrissey stressed the methodology goes far beyond the use of the electronic service request system.

“They hold their folks accountable,” said Morrissey, referring to Baltimore. “Every two weeks, their main operating departments present in front of a review board.”

“You know when you come in front of this board that you better have your ducks in line,” added Ald. Lenny Jacobson (D-6), who was part of the trip to Baltimore. “You’re gonna be accountable for what you’re doing, because the documentation is there.”

Morrissey and Scott-Valdez plan to do the same in Rockford to make sure every job is getting done.

Scott-Valdez said city departments can also look forward to surprise spot-check visits to see how employees are making use of their time.

According to Scott-Valdez, Baltimore’s implementation of CitiStat resulted in a cumulative savings of $100 million between 2001 and 2003.

“Now, they are a bigger city and we won’t see quite that many zeros in our savings,” Scott-Valdez noted. “We will see a savings as significant for the size of our city and for our population.”

Baltimore has a population of more than 600,000, about four times the number of Rockford residents.

Ryan Brauns, who serves on the RockStat Advisory Committee, indicated, “This is the type of thing that is living on in Baltimore, and living on in other cities, and will survive this council and this administration, perhaps for generations, as the city has a chance to do its government a little bit more effectively.”

The mayor plans to introduce citizens to RockStat during his March 15 State of the City Address.

From the Feb. 21-27, 2007, issue

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