NOTE: Full report is available at: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/exec/stat/pdfs/countystat_senatefieldhearing_fulltestimony.pdf
Testimony of the Honorable Isiah Leggett, County Executive, Montgomery County, Maryland to
The U.S. Senate Budget Committee
Task Force on Government Performance
Performance “Stat”: Measuring Priorities, Progress and Results
Monday, July 12, 2010 at 2:00 PM
Governor’s Reception Room
Maryland State House
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401
• Montgomery County government has long been recognized as one of the most progressive and effective in the nation. As County Executive my goal has been to make it even better.
• I have made building an open, inviting, responsive, and accountable government a top priority for my administration.
• I have built a more responsive and transparent government through new patterns of collaboration, partnership, use of data in all aspects of the decision making process, and, most importantly, through the establishment of an accountability system that focuses on the interests of the Montgomery County taxpayer, both residents and businesses.
• Our approach is simple---- we are focused on our customers’ needs – identifying service gaps and areas of needed improvement, establishing priorities and goals, tracking progress, and responding promptly to customers’ service requests.
• The Basics of Management 101 is: “what gets monitored gets done”. But my approach for establishing Montgomery County’s “Results-Based Accountability System” was a bit different --- I believe, “what gets measured, gets done effectively and efficiently”.
• That’s why one of my first steps as County Executive was to create County Stat as one of my central management tools – to create that focus.
• CountyStat is a tool that provides accountability at all levels of government and measures the rate of investment, return on that investment and supports budget, management and funding decisions
• CountyStat has added value by enforcing my philosophy of “results-based accountability” and empowering the departments to make “data-driven” decisions.
• As Winston Churchill said: “However Beautiful the Strategy, You Should Occasionally Look at the Results”. What we are focused on is “delivering results for our established priorities”.
Impacts: No management tool is worth the time it takes to implement if it does not bring you results and closer to your goals. So let me for a moment focus on what we have accomplished by implementing CountyStat.
We have reduced cost of County operations and service delivery and have achieved significant savings and efficiencies in variety of areas:
1. Through monitoring overtime and regularly meeting with high overtime using departments, including the Police and Fire and Rescue Departments, Department of Correction and Rehabilitation, and Department of Transportation, overtime hours and expenditures have been reduced by 149,492 overtime hours, which translates to $6,150,711.
2. Paper reduction – reduced use of printing and mailing. We had a goal of reducing paper use roughly 15% in a year, thereby saving the County roughly $1 million dollars. In the time since this initial goal was set, the County has saved more than $1.5 million dollars and reduced environmental impact of approximately 66 million sheets of paper.
3. Our Pedestrian Safety Initiative had two clear objectives: 1) Reduce pedestrian-related crashes, injuries, fatalities, and their associated social and economic costs, and 2) Ensure that all areas of the County provide safe and convenient travel options for pedestrians.
• As a result of CountyStat, Pedestrian Safety Initiative Staff and resources are being strategically deployed to focus on these two goals. Using data on pedestrian-vehicle collisions, four High Incidence Areas were established. Departments’ work, including education, enforcement, and engineering activities, is now focused on those areas and takes into account the specifics needs of those communities.
• And the most important result of all – Pedestrian fatalities are down in 2009 (14) compared to 2008 (17), and the lowest in 4 years. Overall pedestrian collisions were also down over 2008 when comparing the first 9 months of the year
• Parking lots were determined to be a pedestrian safety hot spot; 22% of the pedestrian-related collisions in Montgomery County occur in parking lots. That figure adds up to 324 parking lot collisions involving pedestrians over the past three and one-half years. In response to this pressing concern, we launched a comprehensive public education campaign to improve pedestrian safety in parking lots.
• Collaborative efforts like Safe Routes to Schools, a program delivered by the Police and Transportation departments, and Montgomery County Public Schools, have been truly successful --- by use of detailed GIS mapping and data analytics to demonstrate this program’s impact, resources were re-allocated to achieve the maximum impact for County residents.
• Initially, the Pedestrian Safety Initiative called for two additional inspectors at a cost of $174,000 per year. CountyStat determined that the addition of these inspectors would have little impact on pedestrian collisions. Therefore, the additional inspectors were not added to the current staff complement and resources were diverted to other, more effective, programs.
• We have established clear linkages among County Priorities, County Goals and Departmental Decisions, at all areas – including policy, operational and budget.
• We have drastically improved “accountability” by institutionalizing data-driven decision making in Montgomery County.
• We created a Stronger Collaboration and Partnership among our County Departments and Agencies.
Lessons Learned: In the time since we have implemented CountyStat, we have learned a few lessons that may help others implementing similar programs.
1. Ensure commitment and support for performance management at the highest level: Ultimately, performance management, and Stat in particular, is a leadership tool for creating effective management strategies and making sure all strategies are done and implanted. For that reason County-Stat was established within the Office of the County Executive.
2. Partner with the community: Seeking input from a diverse group of community representatives to develop “priorities” will ensure that the focus is kept on “community priorities” therefore improving their quality of life. Here is the list of community priorities in Montgomery County:
♦ A Responsive and Accountable County Government
♦ Affordable Housing in an Inclusive Community
♦ An Effective and Efficient Transportation Network
♦ Children Prepared to Live and Learn
♦ Healthy and Sustainable Communities
♦ Safe Streets and Secure Neighborhoods
♦ A Strong and Vibrant Economy
♦ Vital Living for All of Our Residents
3. Develop buy-in from directors and managers: The Stat process is a good way to monitor progress by top leaders at different governmental levels, but it can and should also be a good management tool for those operating programs at the ground level. To accomplish this, the strategy must be communicated and understood by those leaders. Some of your leaders may get on board more quickly than others. It’s up to the chief executive, to make it clear that the use of this tool is a positive step that will help the department and the County as a whole.
4. Develop buy-in from legislative branch: It is equally important to have the support of legislators, who have final authority on budget decisions impacting government operations. Working collaboratively with this group to use data, and support the data-driven decision-making model put in place by the Executive Branch, is vital.
5. Establish collaborative relationships: Departments who came to understand the value of the Stat process and data-driven decision-making typically had the most improved outcomes. This is linked to the collaborative relationships established between departments and CountyStat process. By creating partnerships and a positive and open working environment between performance management staff and department staff, speedier progress can be made.
6. Focus on what matters: Rather than try to measure everything the County does, leaders instead should opt to focus intently on a small set of outcome focused measures. Those measures reflect the most important aspects of County operations, and encourage departments to focus strategies and resources on those core components. This should be an ongoing and continuous process that reflects inevitable change in government resources, priorities and resident needs and priorities.
7. Have dedicated staff manage performance and assist departments: Departments often do not have the staff capacity or expertise to do the complex analysis, benchmarking, and surveying required to evaluate performance. Additionally, having staff separate from departments provides an impartial set of eyes that allows for clearer assessment and follow-up.
8. Take a long term, comprehensive view: Any single tool cannot be used in isolation to improve results. We determined that a comprehensive approach to performance management is important to firmly establishing results-based accountability within the government. CountyStat, combined with MC311, ERP, and other performance and data-focus tools, work together to deliver results to County residents.
9. Develop capacity within departments/offices to measure and manage performance and institutionalize this new approach: As I noted previously, , departments don’t necessarily have the capacity to manage performance at the level required. CountyStat worked with departments to increase their internal ability to continually monitor and assess operational performance, in order to construct more self-sufficient and outcome-focused departments. With the proper training, tools, awareness, and enforcement mechanisms, departments become more self-sufficient in managing their data and are able to more effectively identify strategies for improvement.
♦ CountyStat Rotational Fellowship Program – This is an example of a capacity building opportunity was developed to address the needs of County departments. Selected Montgomery County government employees can spend half of their work time, over a ten week period, in the CountyStat office. This Rotational Fellowship helps participants improve their data gathering/analysis skills and understand the value of data-driven and results-focused thinking and decision making.
10. Process is valuable: The process in putting together Department’s measures is as valuable as the measures themselves. It forces self reflection and the prioritization of core programming elements. This has been especially valuable during these difficult fiscal times. The reduction of all programs is difficult, but quantitative data that demonstrates impact and usage makes this process smoother and ensures that scarce resources are devoted to the most beneficial programs.
11. Consistent follow-up: To make progress and ensure results, relentless follow up with departments on their performance goals and commitments is required. Initially, there may be an attitude that performance management will fade away, so it is necessary to continue to push departments to measure and manage their performance until it becomes part of the culture.
12. Separate the Stat process from the budget process – have a distinct performance monitoring process: Having the Stat program within the Office of the County Executive and a dedicated staff solely focused on performance, ensures that it is given priority and attention at all levels. For a variety of reasons, it is important to keep the Stat process distinct from the budget process. The Stat process should focus on operational performance impartially, without the added role of budgeting. Clearly, the results from County Stat will often ultimately feed into the budget formulation process, informing a manager’s budget recommendations and decisions. But budget decisions are not driving the CountyStat process.
Suggestions on how CountyStat can apply to Federal government: Please refer to pages 15-20 of the full testimony for more details.
Using Performance Stat to Make Decisions: Performance management tool like CountyStat can be used to track the results of federal agencies with field offices and branches across the country. Similarly, large agencies that have many different offices, bureaus, etc., with disparate programs and goals would have similar needs for a Stat-type program. While these offices and bureaus may conduct very different activities and programs, ultimately they are all working toward a common mission (i.e. Dept. of Education – strengthen the Federal commitment to assuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual; Dept. of Agriculture – provide leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management, etc.).
Using Quality Data to Evaluate Performance of common programs at All Levels of Government: Rich, well-defined data sources can be used by all levels of government for performance management: the federal government, state government, and local jurisdictions. Having rich, well-defined data that is collected by all jurisdictions allows the levels of government to work together on common performance goals and improves the efficiency of the performance management system itself even for performance management needs that are unique to the jurisdiction.
Setting Common, Meaningful Goals to Promote Effective Intergovernmental Collaboration: Setting mutually agreed upon goals would promote more effective collaboration among the three levels of government in order to achieve results in areas of common concern. For most issues, each level of government has its own way of measuring progress and a desire to dictate how the level below should perform and measure progress. Example: Opportunities for Collaboration in Health Reform Legislation – see page 17 of full testimony.
Making Performance Measurement/Stat Process a Condition of Federal Grant Funding: Performance management at the local level for targeted federal priorities would enable the federal government to distribute grant awards to the most appropriate recipients. It would also facilitate efficient performance reporting of on-the-ground results.
Linking Stat Measures to Federal/State Legal Requirements and Using Stat to Measure Achievement Beyond County Government Actions/Efforts: Some County government programs involve meeting State and Federal legal requirements or standards. Stat and performance measurement provide the mechanism to communicate measurable results to the public and other government entities and put the focus on key goals and priorities. Example: the County’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Federal Clean Water Act water quality criteria apply to the County’s rivers and lakes. A state-issued NPDES Municipal Separate Storm Sewer system (MS4) permit – See page 20 of full testimony.