When you read the Town of Chapel Hill’s budget book this year (its sure to be on the NY Times bestseller list no doubt!), the GFOA-required Performance Measures section will only contain what the Town budget manager refers to as “bean-counting” measures (think: we acquired ___ new library books this year; or, we processed ___ special use permits over the course of the fiscal year). The performance measures section in this year’s budget does not do justice to the amount of work and dedication on the part of Town employees to improve the efficiency of the Town’s internal operations. Not so for next year! The FY11 budget book for the Town will contain a handful of bright and shiny new performance measures instituted in Phase I of the Town’s performance measurement project (Ooooo!).
Phase I of this project is now complete and the pilot units are ready to go with putting their measures into action. With the help of SOG’s resident performance measurement guru, Dr. David Ammons, the pilot units (parking services, fire, fleet services, planning, and IT) have crafted goals and objectives, and developed final performance measures for tracking organizational efficiency and service delivery. The units have met with the Town’s performance measurement committee as well as Town Manager Roger Stancil, and the Deputy and Assistant Town Managers to share their experiences and develop a plan for institution and data tracking.
In the spirit of Peter Senge’s concept of a learning organization (check out this description and Senge’s The Fifth Discipline), Mr. Stancil has decided to roll out this project in consecutive piecemeal phases. He wants to expand the knowledge and skill set of the performance measurement project throughout the organization, eventually developing performance measures for every department and division. The second-round units will volunteer to take part in the performance measurement experience with Dr. Ammons and go through the same process as the pilot units. For a more detailed description of how the Town developed performance measures, you can look over my first blog post on this subject.
There will be a significant new dimension to Phase II, however. In this new phase, to start as soon as the end of the summer, the pilot unit participants will play a significant role in advising and guiding the new units through the development of their goals, objectives, and measures. By offering up their experience and advice, the pilot units will help the Phase II participants to not only develop solid performance measures, but they will also engage in the creation of an interconnected shared knowledge of ways to improve overall organizational efficiency. Its The Fifth Discipline in action!
The performance measurement process is a great way to spread this type of culture throughout the Town. It not only enhances the awareness of departments to what other facets of the organization are doing, but it also creates a shared dialogue on how to improve the ways that the Town operates and serves its citizens. And isn’t that exactly what we expect the Town (and local governments across the country) to do? Pretty neat stuff!