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Somerville CitiStat Performance Management

Last Updated 05/03/04

The City of Somerville would like to change the way the City manages its operations. Mayor Curtatone would like to develop performance measures and gather performance data regarding service issues that matter to citizens and would like to implement a Managing for Results system consistent with the CitiStat movement. The City will be implementing these changes with assistance from The Abrahams Group, the Kennedy School of Government and the Rappaport Institute.

Managing for Results

Performance Management begins with strategic and program plans to define citywide strategic goals and strategies. The Mayor will articulate Citywide goals. Working with departments, the City will define its service delivery system in terms of programs, sub programs and activities to help achieve Citywide goals. Departments will develop program and activity goal statements.

Performance measures would then be defined to (1) track the achievement of the goals and (2) measure the efficiency and effectiveness of City services. To be relevant, performance measures should relate to the organization's mission and purposes or goals of programs with relevant input from the citizens. Department programs, sub programs and activities are identified with related goals and performance indicators to track the progress of attaining those goals. The City's budget is changed from a departmental line item format to a program format with related goals and selected performance data. The Department of Public Works is the pilot department for this effort. The Kennedy School of Government will assist the City to transform the remaining departments to the program/performance budget during FY 2005.

Data are then compiled including cost information by program and activity. Accounting, budgeting and payroll systems are typically realigned to support the program and activity strucutre to budget by program and account by activity. Work order systems are typically involved depending on the level of detail needed. Databases are created to capture data related to the performance indicators. Activity based costing provides the accounting basis to determine the costs of providing services and unit costing. Performance data may be verified at this point.

Current service levels are recorded, including costs, and program results are monitored and evaluated. The evaluation focuses on how well the program is performing based on some standard. Standards may be past performance (baseline), comparisons to other jurisdictions (benchmark), industry standards, customer requirements or other methods. New or revised targets are established based on this analysis and are linked to the budget through resource allocations. Service delivery may be redesigned at this point based on results. The results are then reported through service efforts and accomplishments (SEA) reporting, scorecards, or other accountability reports.

Underlying the City's objectives is the realization that to change the way the City performs its business is to change how the City's managers, supervisors, and staff think about City operations. To be successful, the City's performance management must involve its department heads, managers, supervisors, and staff in most or all of the steps working together. In essence, performance management is the reason why performance measurement exists. The City can measure performance and use performance information in order to improve effectiveness and efficiency and manage for results.

311 Call Center

To manage for results, the City plans to implement a 311 citizen's call center and CitiStat. The 311 system is a telephone line - 311, similar to the well-known 911 line for police calls - for citizens to report problems and complaints to all city departments. The 311 call center inputs each caller "service request" and refers it to the appropriate department. Callers are given a tracking number they can use for followup calls. The system not only offers a streamlined system for managing all calls to the city, but also makes departments accountable for every call that the city gets. In addition, the calls provide fresh data on trends and issues of concern to the City.


CitiStat is an accountability tool based on the ComStat program pioneered in the New York City Police Department and enhance by the City of Baltimore. ComStat, utilizing computer pin mapping and weekly accountability sessions, helped the NYPD dramatically reduce crime and is employed today by several police departments around the world. Baltimore expanded the concept beyond crime for every City agency. In short, CitiStat is how Baltimore manages for results. Strategies are developed and employed, managers held accountable, and results measured frequently. Top city officials meet biweekly with agency representatives to discuss the data, which have been put into maps and charts of the city. But the city leaders don't just need read reports on the data. They use the data to hold managers accountable on delivering results. The Rappaport Institute will provide interns to assist in this area.

These meetings evolve into discussions beyond the pure data, creating a dialogue that would otherwise only happen at annual budget meetings. As a result, City officials are able to better assess where assets should be used, often allowing them to save money without layoffs, and gauge where agencies can work together instead of doing the same job twice. Also, because the top officials are at one table, decisions can be made more quickly, rather than working through a bureaucratic system. But most importantly, CitiStat adds accountability to City governing, as the Mayor now has tools available to hold managers accountable for performance, and those managers have the same tools to do so with those in the field.

CitiStat is a groundbreaking use of digital technology to improve and streamline the delivery of a wide array of government services. It effectively helps governments improve the flow of information between decision makers, resulting in quicker decisions and more efficient strategies for solving problems. The CitiStat movement in Somerville is termed SomerStat.

Short and Long-Term Objectives

The City desires to implement a Managing for Results system over the next several years. As one step in developing a performance management system, the City will develop a pilot performance measurement project for the Department of Public Works. Initial results include:

  • Definition of programs
  • Definition of activities
  • Development of program and activity goals
  • Development of performance indicators of input, output, outcome, service quality and efficiency
  • Development of a results based budget for the Department of Public Works for FY 2005.

Other short-term objectives include:

  • Develop a conceptual framework of the City's Managing for Results program
  • Develop a functional overview of the financial system (accounting, payroll, work order systems and the like) to support Managing for Results
  • Develop a functional overview of a 311 citizen complaint system
  • Develop a functional overview of the SomerStat system

Longer-range objectives are to:

  1. Develop programs, activities and performance indicators in the remaining departments
  2. Develop a FY 2006 Citywide performance based budget for all City departments
  3. Develop Citywide strategic goals and strategies
  4. Develop department mission and goal statements
  5. Align Citywide and department goal statements
  6. Align City systems to support this effort
  7. Develop additional systems to support this effort
  8. Compile performance data
  9. Develop evaluative techniques to improve efficiency and effectiveness
  10. Develop periodic accountability reports
  11. Implement the 311 and SomerStat systems