Guest author, Rebecca Jackson, is the Strategic Performance Analytics Director for the City of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
For the City of Fayetteville, stormwater management is a critically important issue. Our ability to manage the flow of stormwater and the quality of our water is not just a question of infrastructure, but is key to preserving our waterways and becoming a more resilient city in the face of flooding and other natural disasters.
When the City of Fayetteville first began working with the Center for Government Excellence (GovEx) through the What Works Cities (WWC) initiative, we set out to analyze and refine the performance measures we use to track and manage this issue. In the past, we were focused on measures of capacity and workload, but too often what we measured was not tied to outcomes. At a time when we were undertaking a major review of our stormwater projects, and of public interest in our program, we had no existing method to measure the progress and effectiveness of our ongoing stormwater projects.
To begin to change our trajectory, we partnered with GovEx to bring together city staff from both the Storm Water Division and the Strategy and Performance Analytics office. As we reviewed the objectives of the Storm Water Division’s programs for clarity and accuracy, we began to identify the measures that were specific, measurable, actionable, results-oriented, and timely (SMART), and worked with the members of the team to ensure that the things we measure are relevant to the outcomes we are all working to achieve for our city.
During this process we also reached out beyond the borders of Fayetteville and reviewed data and measures being used by our peer cities, incorporating methods and best practices into our own work and discussions. GovEx also facilitated a meeting with the City of Raleigh (also part of WWC) to get a regional perspective on our efforts.
Through this process we were able to refine outcome-based key performance indicators (KPIs) that better reflect the true work of the Storm Water Division, and to incorporate the outcomes that our City’s elected officials and residents can use to evaluate the performance of the division. We began piloting a new process for tracking and reporting out on the progress of our ongoing infrastructure projects, creating a baseline for comparison and improving our ability to identify potential issues and respond rapidly to keep projects on track. We also evaluated our project management practices with an aim to establishing clear guidelines that normalize the way we track and manage major projects across all city departments. And finally, we conducted an initial performance (‘Stat’) meeting with department and executive-level personnel to review the new measures, discuss ways of measuring projects going forward, and begin to make data-driven decisions about the future of the program.
Taken together, we are building a whole new new toolkit for the City of Fayetteville to monitor progress, use data to pan and evaluate our efforts, and inform decision makers and the public on the progress and importance of this critical infrastructure work.
We don’t plan to stop with our stormwater programs either, we are already working to replicate this process with other departments in the city, developing outcome-focused KPIs and evaluation processes for every part of our city. In the end we will have actually reduced the overall number of measures and therefore the work of reporting measures, while having a stronger overall measurement program focused squarely on our most pressing outcomes and objectives. We also plan to break down traditional boundaries between departments, and organize future performance meetings that focus on the need for cross-departmental cooperation to meet our shared objectives.
Department staff and directors will come ready and armed with the data we need to have informed, actionable discussions about departmental goals and be able to more rapidly respond to the need to correct any deficiencies in performance.