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Civic Efficiency Collaborative

The Civic Efficiency Collaborative is a Share Alike consortium? of governments and professionals working in support of government applications. It focuses on better quality management in government, on e-government, and on transparent municipalities that are subject to municipal performance audits by the ordinary taxpayer.

It was formed to support a proposal originally reviewed by John Godfrey on December 21 2004(external link), and being prepared for the Federation of Canadian Muniicpalities for June 2005(external link).

Contact User:Dan_King and User:Craig_Hubley of the Green Party of Toronto and Civic Efficiency Group, or Elio Di Iorio of the town of Richmond Hill, ON, CA?.

Its first proposal was for a City Signal Infrastructure Loan program, which it proposed in a February 18, 2005, open letter to Ralph Goodale from Civic Efficiency Group, a nonprofit lobby group of civic experts that created the initial recommendations.

The framing of that proposal was as follows. It complements other recommendations by the Canadian Big City Mayors?, Green Budget Coalition and Canadian Alternative Budget:.

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GREENING CANADA'S CITIES BY BETTER STATISTICS AND AUDITING

Summary: The Baltimore CitiStat example proves that a better municipal statistics? and routine weekly municipal performance audit process is the best foundation for any municipal cost- and energy-saving program. It is also the foundation for a 311 service, validated green procurement and improved emergency preparedness? that may also help prevent crime?. These are the first steps to transparent municipalities that can participate in a federal City Infrastructure Loan program, paying back a small initial investment quickly with many routine savings, building a fund to enable other cities to follow this path.

BACKGROUND:

The ComStat program was pioneered in the New York City Police Department by Jack Maple. CompStat, utilizing computer pin map?ping and weekly accountability session?s, helped the NYPD dramatically reduce crime. IT is employed today by several police departments around the world. It may have applications also in emergency preparedness?, and coordinating all first responder?s including community emergency response teams.

Baltimore's Mayor O'Malley adapted this process for every City agency from Public Works to Health - creating Baltimore CitiStat by which the Mayor runs the City. Strategies are developed and employed, managers are held accountable, and results measured --not yearly, quarterly, or monthly, but week to week. This drastically compresses the usual cycle of a municipal performance audit. The process paid back over forty times its initial investment in the first year - see detail in City Infrastructure Loan.

THE CITISTAT PROCESS

Agency or bureau heads come to a CitiStat meeting every other week with the Mayor, deputy mayors, and key cabinet members. Days before each meeting, the bureau or agency is required to submit data to the CitiStat team. The data covers a wide variety of information for a two-week period. The Solid Waste Bureau, for example, submits data on everything from dirty alley and missed trash pick-up complaints to the number of sick days taken in a particular division and the overtime rate. After data is received, the
CitiStat team analyzes the numbers and prepares the presentation for the meeting.

Accurate and timely information is critical to the success of theCitiStat process. CitiStat's operations team is responsible for ensuring the data is true by taking a critical look at the information, conducting field investigations, and pulling cases at random. The operations team also analyzes all data received, compares it to the report for the previous period and formulates questions designed to explain the data and highlight problem areas. The technical team is responsible for preparing briefing books for the Mayor and deputy mayors and for geocoding any address data in order to plot it on the computer pin map.

Four Tenets constitute the foundation of Citistat:
  • Accurate and Timely Intelligence
  • Effective Tactics and Strategies
  • Rapid Deployment of Resources
  • Relentless Follow-Up and Assessment

TO CANADIAN MAYORS:

Over the past year, Baltimore has gained a new attraction. Week in and week out, officials from every level of government from across the country and even as far as Europe-be it from townships, cities, states, and even federal agencies and foreign govenrmetns are sending delegations to Baltimore to learn more about CitiStat program. It has won several very prominent awards for quality management in government. Its accounting has been audited by the Kennedy School of Government? - see City Infrastructure Loan for the accounting model.

Their interest is not surprising. Whether you work in the public, private, or non-profit sectors, being able to regularly measure and evaluate performance is absolutely critical to successfully managing any endeavor. Whether you're responsible for managing a small unit of less than five people or a large City with 16,000 employees and over 600,000 residents, a program like CitiStat can provide you with the critical information you need for better decision-making, can be driving the force behind your most
important management and service initiatives, and provides the structured mechanism to ensure that you stay focused on your top priorities.

BUILDING ON THE CITISTAT PLATFORM

Many other federal and provincial obligations that are met by municipal government, plus those that are specific to a unique municipality (Toronto, Winnipeg with its biosafety level 4 lab, Halifax with its vulnerable port, York Region with the Oak Ridges Moraine and so on) or taken on by that municipality strategically, can also be tracked - Baltimore regularly adds more CitiStat reports - some of those that are applicable to Canadian municipalities:

CARBON CREDITS

Implementation of CitiStat can quickly be used to develop an emissions baseline for calculating improvements under the Kyoto Protocol. Provable reductions can result in the generation of carbon credits which become a marketable commodity to meet Canada's reduction requirements or the requirements of other countries, traded through the mechanism of a carbon exchange?. Similarly, any other carbon credits generated by follow-on programs can accrue to the federal government to count towards its Kyoto quota.

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

CitiStat, and its predecessor CompStat (NYC), was developed originally to meet the need to combat crime in those cities. Now a new level of emergency preparedness? is required to fight international terrorism. To some extent, better data collection and incident reporting will assist in providing a
foundation for better intelligence for our security forces.

FUNDING

The best way to fund improved municipal statistics and signal infrastructure is by loans to city consortia? working through FCM, or directly to government agencies responsible for the implementation of these programs. The loans can be later recovered by the appropriation of the benefits which are produced.

See City Infrastructure Loan for the detailed proof that the benefits available drastically outweigh the costs for early steps of the program. Later steps will be justified based on provable savings as all of the above benefits become more quantified.

In effect, all of these benefits are free to the federal taxpayer, since they pay for themselves provably in less than one federal election cycle?. There can be no more effective use of the leverage of federal funding than these proven winners. See City Infrastructure Loan for some numbers and details related to some accounting reforms that will be required to completely measure the benefits.

BEYOND STATISTICS

The same funding model can then apply to follow-on projects: 311 service, Zero Downtime Network?s and Zero E-Waste Hardware, and Green Procurement Validation?.

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311 service

Baltimore's Mayor has also has advised that no 311 service be implemented before CitiStat, since much feedback about municipal services is generated by any such service, and it needs to be stored and reviewed in a systematic fashion.

The new 311 services planned by many municipalities can be the flagship of Canada's municipal strategy to meet Kyoto requirements. Instead of building a "bricks and mortar" call centre and asking low-paid workers to commute in their cars or on buses, call centre workers can be invited to work out of their own homes.

The Industry Canada RFP of 2004-12-20 provides specification for a distributed call centre which requires no infrastructure more expensive than a plain old telephone set (POTS) and a standard PC - which would ideally be Zero E-Waste Hardware for further environmental savings. With this call centre workers can log on their shifts, respond to business calls on their home lines, and log off when they need to go home or take a break.

Supervisors can monitor calls or staff electronically within the limits of labour agreements and good industry practices.

CUT COMMUTING

This concept, applied to 311 call centres, can be expanded to general municipal staff. Each staff member can have the option of performing some of his duties from his home workstation. Phone calls can be redirected and identical computer infrastructure environment can be implemented in the home, along with full security procedures.

Widespread general telework lets significant numbers of workers remain at home instead of engaging in a daily commute. Standards and practices can adjust in some departments so that staff will be physically present some days for purposes of meetings and consultations with other staff. Teleconferencing facilities can reduce transport even on those days when meetings - but not live meeting?s - are required.

EMPLOY UNDEREMPLOYED

Many underemployed people such as the disabled, students and stay-at-home mothers and people who live in remote locations can be very easily employed with such an infrastructure. It is morally wrong for the federal government or any other level of government to be building large buildings that will require poor people to commute to them, sucking up precious cash on transport and daycare, that could have been used in their communities. Where telework is possible, governments have a moral obligation to support it, for all these reasons.

DISTRIBUTE FEDERAL JOBS

The Canadian federal government? seems to agree, as it announced in February 2005 that it would move 10,000 to 30,000 jobs out of the Ottawa area into rural areas, and unify the delivery of all government services using a nationwide intranet run by a single agency. This is a very substantial endorsement of the idea of distributing workers and workplaces, and the movement of municipal, regional, and provincial work to less centralized workplaces will create a competitive environment for business or government work moved to rural locations.

Reg Alcock estimated it would take about two years to make the transition. Those municipalities which implement the above transition to full transparency should have some advantage in bidding to become federal service centre?s. Can Canada's public services be delivered from anywhere that is less organized and less capable of keeping itself in action?

MEET KYOTO, CLEAN AIR

Reduced commuting activity will result in a predictable reduction of fuel burned in vehicles. This will create a reduction in smog and respiratory illnesses that plague Canada's Cities.

It will also reduce Canada's greenhouse gas emissions as required under the Kyoto accord. If municipalities generate benefits under a program financed (even by loans) by the federal government, these benefits can be accrued to the Government of Canada to meet our national targets, and municipalities would be rewarded with continued support and additional federal resources.

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ZERO DOWNTIME NETWORKS:
continuous availability communications

With a vast number of new home workstations being created under 311 and the federal government jobs plan, and also the increased use of telework by other agencies, a systems support nightmare will necessarily result without serious standards and close attention to privacy, security, virus-proofing, and longer lifespan of computer hardware.

In no way must the benefits generated by reduced commuting be replaced by a requirement to have support staff commute to workers' home sites to deal with routine maintenance problems. Nor must unscheduled downtime? be acceptable. Only continuous availability as reliable as the telephone network itself will be acceptable to employers long-term.

This problem can readily be solved with a standard and modular bay-boot-box? architecture. This permits support to take place without any requirement of a staff site visit, ever. A typical bay-boot-box configuration is the green bay box - which has both a longer lifecycle, lower long term support costs, and is easily re-used once obsoleted. It is possible to improve to be zero e-waste hardware.

RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

A system that has the ability to be supported remotely, without the intervention of technical staff will have the property of being a more resilient system, more capable of providing failure-proof service in national emergencies. Be they man-made or natural disasters, computer infrastructure is an essential part of any response effort.

With many remote home worksites, the city's operations infrastructure will become impervious to point-source disasters like explosions or flooding of public buildings. A higher level of staff safety will be ensured as they perform their duties, from their home workstations, in the event of a national pandemic.

A distributed infrastructure has the ability to be far more resilient than even a hardened central office. Federal investment in municipal infrastructure will meet the nation's need for emergency preparedness in the face of a whole new range of unpredictable threats. It is possible,
that with national investments in municipalities, the nation could become, to some extent, impermeable to disasters and acts of terrorism that would otherwise shut business down.

Imagine a situation in which the consequences of even major disasters are quickly dealt with by the resilient infrastructure of neighbouring communities, rather like the Internet responds to service dropouts by just routing around.

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GREEN PROCUREMENT VALIDATION
- meeting municipal and federal purchasing standards

Municipalities across Canada are unable to meet the requirements of their procurement policies. They do not have the information to make their purchases in a manner consistent with their policies. The federal government has a similar problem, and has admitted that it often cannot meet its own mandated requirements for purchasing standards.

The 2004 throne speech announced that green procurement was a federal government priority. It is also high priority in many municipalities, such as Toronto, that have policies of this nature already, and no way to enforce them. Other municipalities currently comtemplating a green procurement are reluctant to implement such a policy due to the perceived high cost, subsequesnt loss of competetiveness, and general lack of support in doing so. A green procurement validation service will help every level of government? meet its institutional buying criteria, some of which are mandated by law and policy.

Such a service would enable instant lookup of product and service characteristics by barcode? or other tag, e.g.
  • Governments purchase car?s and especially fleets of cars - All statistics required to meet reduced energy consumption requirements or lower cost of ownership can be centralized on a single federal web service - the number of vehicle makers is small, and their products are standard, so it wastes effort for each city, town and province to do this itself
  • Governments purchase energy?; Not all electrons are the same. Municipalities could soon be making energy purchase based on the sustainability of the power generation source. Canada, driven by demand for sustainable power, can become a world leader in wind generation and other greenhouse gas reducing power systems, and of course, to save energy?, all conservation plans should be treated as energy purchases and cost-justified on exactly the same grounds from exactly the same accounts.
  • To purchase product?s of any kind, but particularly energy-intensive goods, increasingly involves regulations such as Energy Star?: Every product has an "energy footprint". An online catalog, activated by bar codes and other standard devices, can drive an "energy budget" to simultaneously track dollar costs of goods purchased and also all the energy consumed in their production. This is a first step to finding the comprehensive outcome and full ecological footprint of all Canadian government buying.

Other benefits of highly-instrumented purchasing are harder to measure, would not be estimated initially, but might come to be measured in the long run somehow:
  • Purchases of no sweat? uniforms and other goods that a municipality has promised to purchase from operations that obey labour standards (though this is not an environmental issue, it is certainly enabled by exactly the same system.
  • No old growth forest products purchased by government - preserving biodiversity and satisfying environmental procurement? requirements many municipalities passed into law.
  • The community-building effects of moral purchasing in general. For instance, purchasing from a small artisan coop that works with recycled materials rather than from a large transnational? using child labour? has benefits for a community well beyond the amount of money that is exchanged.

Such intangible benefits and specific moral buying criteria should be supported alongside those that yield measurable benefits. Measurements should be encouraged but not always required: people have a right to decide not to purchase what offends their moral values, especially via governments which they have no choice but to fund with tax dollars.

REVENUE MODEL

Those of the monitored purchasing activities that produce measurable or potentially measurable benefits for municipalities and the federal government are tabulated in management accounting for cities. A brief overview:

First, the validation service provides means for full compliance of municipalities with their purchasing policies. This political benefit helps produce integrity in government - it is perceived as meeting its promises and obligations.

Similar software can provide standardized national green procurement for all governments in Canada - and potentially also businesses working for/with government or nonprofits or arms-length agencies that follow similar procurement rules.

Purely private-sector organizations could also use it if a portion of the benefits accrued to the federal government. For instance, such a service will generate greenhouse gas reductions as required under the Kyoto protocol. These have real benefits with market value. As provider of the services that are the means to generate these savings, the federal government can retain the carbon credit as a part of a chargeback system.

Such a service could be rapidly expanded to other institutional buying criteria and even individual buying criteria. It might be the foundation of a new ISO standard implemented and hosted by the Government of Canada. It would be a major strategic move in "greening the globe." And, by moving first, the Government could be sure that its domestic products would not be unduly or unfairly targetted in the purchasing processes of other nations or businesses.

VERY LOW RISK

There are few or no technical risks in creating such a system. A complete open-source design already exists - called Consumerium - and can be adapted to government use without royalty payments. It can be made self-funding? by any of the means above, as implemention costs are low.

To be comprehensive, however, it can be expanded by loans to municipalities with special needs to track purchasing, or to a national program to provide services to municipalities - perhaps administered by FCM.

These loans, like other City Infrastructure Loans, can be paid back by the savings that are created. Surplus value can be appropriated by the municipalities providing a shared benefit stream. In the end, the entire program is *free* to the taxpayer. It requires only that an existing city infrastructure fund such as COMRIFS? or a new fund for larger cities, set aside enough seed capital to implement the procurement service and integrate it with the municipal procurement and statistics systems defined above - which will themselves be most readily created with federal loans.

Given the provable benefits of more ready comparison of full lifecycle costs of many products and services, streamlined bidding and evaluation processes, financial risk is also low.

NATIONAL STANDARDS

Only the federal government can provide services that will in the end result in a flexible national standard for purchasing throughout the country. The Canadian Government Throne Speech, 2005? promised exactly this - calling it "green procurement". So the municipal GPVS is simply a bottom-up implementation of the same concept which can serve as a pilot project? for a wider deployment.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities may play a role in propagating the standards and training municipal decision makers in them. See detailed recommendations(external link).




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