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We’ve all heard the phrase, “Knowledge is power.”
In the future, the City of South Bend will be putting its knowledge — and data — to powerful uses, through an innovative performance-management tracking system.
South Bend is taking its cue from Baltimore, which developed a data tracking and management tool called “CitiStat.” Nearly 11 years ago, the Baltimore mayor’s office began using CitiStat to monitor overtime and sick leave and managed to save about $13.2 million the first year it was in use. Baltimore also has used CitiStat to analyze and improve response times for services ranging from pothole repairs to snow removal, and to monitor critical issues like vacant buildings and illegal dumping. Today, other cities are tapping the power of CitiStat to govern in a smarter, leaner manner.
“South Bend will definitely use some type of performance-management tracking system,” says Mike Schmuhl, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s chief of staff. “Whether it will be called CitiStat, or something else, the goals will be similar: to track the progress and expediency of the city administration and its services.”
The Buttigieg administration is reviewing software that catalogs different services the city provides and then measures the responsiveness and efficiency with which those services are delivered.
What sorts of issues will the city address using this new data tracking and management system?
“It runs the gamut,” says Schmuhl. “From the time it takes to respond to a letter, to the time it takes to fill in a pothole on the street, Mayor Buttigieg’s goal is to make sure each department is responding to residents in a professional, friendly and timely fashion.”
Some departments, such as Water Works, already use a standardized system and respond to tens of thousands of calls every year. But the new system envisioned by South Bend city officials will be broader in scope and application.
“We are looking to use the mayor’s office in a pilot program to measure the services we provide,” says Schmuhl. “We will then expand it to other departments, as training is developed citywide.”
Code Enforcement, which receives thousands of calls each year relating to derelict properties and abandoned vehicles, and Public Works, which handles numerous street-related calls, are likely to benefit the most from the new data-management system.
There will, of course, be start-up costs related to purchasing the software and training city staff how to use it. But city officials don’t expect the overall implementation to be costly. And once it is being used effectively, city officials expect the new data-management system to yield cost savings, and — more importantly — to provide more timely services, in keeping with Mayor Buttigieg’s commitment to putting citizens first.