Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Analytics and accountability

Today I attended a mini conference at our Colorado Convention Center sponsored by the Performance Institute, an adjunct of the IBM Corporation. The conference had lots of good information on "analytics." There were other speakers who illustrated how good information from their analytics programs can help city agencies confront problems. There are lots of definition for Analytics but in a nutshell, this process of information gathering encourages government officials and staff workers to look at patterns statistics which can then become predictors of all sorts of activity of interest to police, fire and other city agencies.

David Edinger, Mayor Hancock's recent appointment as Chief Performance Officer for the city, the keynote speaker at the conference said he hopes to revamp program delivery, execution and performance management based on stakeholder feedback. The agenda item describing what he hopes to do mentions: "to gain citizen support and enthusiasm for government and public service, (to) reform and better utilization of tax payer dollars must be executed throughout all government entities."

One of the speakers for the conference could not come to Denver due to weather conditions somewhere in Canada. So I took a few minutes to fill in for the absent speaker to let David and the other members of city and state agencies present that I really looked forward to working with him. I told him we need his help with recalcitrant city agencies who fail to address recommendations in city audits. I gave several recent examples of city agencies who tried to deny problems in the city. I told him we need his help when agencies deny us access to records. I asked David to attend Audit Committee meetings during which members of the committee hear how audit recommendations are are being implemented.

Someone at the conference asked Edinger what enforcement power goes with his office? He said the Mayor would be the backup if an agency is not performing at peak quality. I responded briefly that the Mayor will have to call his appointees to task if they are not being accountable in running the various departments to which he has appointed them. I did add that Cary Kennedy, new CFO, gets the audit process and will help David and the mayor pull any reluctant appointees in line. One of the IBM software sales people said Denver is on the map because of the focus on performance in Denver. Unfortunately, David is the only employee of the Performance Office. This reminds us of Mike Henry, the only employee of the Ethics Department. Enough said.

So we march up the mountain of accountability at our city. And analytics is like a piton which fixes the rope deep in the stone so a hiker can pull others up to the mountain top.

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