Posts Tagged ‘Citi-Stat’

Fact-Based Governing

July 27, 2009

Maryland’s State-Stat.  Last week I took a field trip to Annapolis to visit Governor Martin O’Malley’s much ballyhooed State-Stat management system.  It is a variation of Baltimore’s Citi-Stat, which O’Malley created in 2001 when he became mayor.  It could serve as an inspiration for what the federal government might do to track the implementation of the various agency-level goals to be submitted to OMB by the end of the week, as well as to coordinate the work of the various “czars” working on cross-agency initiatives.Maryland Flag

Baltimore’s Citi-Stat.  There have been several studies of, as well as awards for, the city system.  And the state-level version, which has been in operation for the past two years since O’Malley has become governor, has been adapted to include a handful of broad, cross-agency goals developed by the governor.  These goals are being driven by a new Governor’s Delivery Unit.

The characteristic, though, that I saw as most power was how agency heads were creating their own versions of State-Stat within their own agencies.  This happened in Baltimore City as well.  This means that the use of strategic analytics – characterized by fact-based decision-making — is being driven down into how agencies do their work, and it is not just a compliance exercise.

Fact-Based Governing Is Expanding. While most prominent in Maryland, these methods are being applied more frequently in other states (such as Washington State) and localities.  The development of “data warehouses” — putting data in one place to analyze and look across organizational boundaries to inform decisions or actions – is happening in police departments as well as homeland security state fusion centers.

Great Britain has a parallel.  Beginning in 2001, the prime minister’s office created a “Delivery Unit” to track key outcome-related priorities, using about 30 Public Service Delivery Agreements to define the contributions of various agencies.  Maryland’s Delivery Unit is newer and just beginning to develop connections between goals, actions, and resources.

The Next Steps.  The trend is moving from performance measurement to performance management.  The fact-based governing approach is the next stage in an evolutionary model of performance management, starting with the standard required reporting from the 1980’s and 1990’s that were descriptive (recording and reporting on what happened and what’s the problem) and then moved to a model that was more analytic (resource planning, measuring performance and processes to determine what will happen if . . . ?) then to a predictive model (How can we achieve the best outcome? What will happen next?).

The challenge, though, according to New York University’s Dennis Smith is that “Every decision involves values and facts.” But he notes: “. . . my aspiration is for a society where public policy and management decisions use systematic thinking to clarify value issues and use empirical evidence to resolve factual disputes.” (Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2009).


Governing with Foresight

November 20, 2008

Last night I attended a showing of the documentary “IOUSA” featuring former Comptroller General David Walker. The film was done before the financial bailout crisis, plunge in the markets, and recession. And it was scary. It describes how the country has created $55 Trillion in unfunded commitments – in pension benefits, healthcare, etc. – that future generations are being saddled with.

This made me think of an issue paper I drafted some months ago for the National Academy for Public Administration’s project assessing the management capacity of the President in facing 21st century challenges. The paper, “Governing with Foresight: Institutional Changes to Enhance Fact-Based Decision-Making in the Executive Office of the President,” explores several potential approaches the new Administration might take to create some forward-looking capacity and action-taking institutions rather than just responding to immediate crises.  The idea is that governing with such approaches might forstall the prediction of impending fiscal doom.  Quickly, here are the highlights:

Create a Compelling Context. The paper summarizes steps taken so far to create a broader public understanding of the context in which public officials need to act – like the IOUSA movie – but more comprehensive. This is being done by a non-profit, State of the USA, which is creating an interactive website of key national indicators that will show our country’s progress on a number of dimensions (such as life expectancy) when compared to other countries or over time or by different parts of the country. This can serve as a fact-based, non-partisan source of objective information. It is scheduled to be launched in early 2009.

Create Action Plans. There have been calls in recent years by the Government Accountability Office to craft a national strategic plan. This has fallen on deaf ears, but there have been successful efforts in recent years to craft specific plans around key national outcomes, such as a National Security Strategy and a National Homeland Security Strategy. This may be a more pragmatic approach than a comprehensive government-wide plan (and feel a lot less Soviet in approach).

Establish a Way to Act on Plans That Reach Across Government. Some states and localities have created “State-Stat,” or “Citi-Stat” mechanisms that governors and mayors use as a way to get action on priorities that reach across state or city agencies. There have been proposals to create a White House-based “Fed-Stat” or “Performance-Stat” to ensure focus and commitment to action on key national strategies.

President-elect Obama has already committed to creating a chief performance officer, possibly someone who would head a National Performance Council to oversee a “Performance-Stat” effort. The pressing issues he’ll face – along with the need to engage citizens in solving these issues (see yesterday’s blog entry) may be one approach to address the issues raised in the IOUSA movie.

Government Reform: David Osborne

November 11, 2008
David Osborne

David Osborne

David Osborne, co-author of the popular Reinventing Government book in the early 1990s and one of my intellectual mentors in government reform, published a column in the current issue of Government Executive magazine offering his advice to the next president, titled “Weeding the Federal Garden.” 


In it he offers several recommendations:


  • Move beyond assessing programs to choosing among them.  First, define outcomes important to Americans — like healthier people or a cleaner environment — and then organize a team around each outcome to identify those existing programs that contribute to those outcomes.  Rank those programs from most to least effective.  When the money runs out, draw a line.  This ranking process has been used effectively in Iowa.  It has the added benefit of encouraging agencies to work across boundaries.  Second, create performance agreements between cabinet secretaries and the president and measure progress toward goals via a “Fed-Stat” modeled after Baltimore’s successful Citi-Stat.



Inventory of Blog Entries

October 22, 2008

This is my 100th blog entry!  Thanks to our many readers and contributors.  While few people post comments on our entries, we get lots of emails and phone calls.  Also, thanks to the Library of Congress for asking to preserve the site as part of its 2008 election coverage.  It’s been fun.


I looked back to see if there were any themes to all the stuff I’ve been writing and thought this would be a good point to come up with a rough index, which I’ll periodically update:


 (Last Updated: December 23, 2008)


Blogs on “The Big Picture” — Where Is Government Reform Going?

Blogs on What the Campaigns Have Been Saying About Government Reform


Blogs on the History of Transitions


Blogs on the 2008 Transition Process

 Blogs on The Bush Administration’s Transition-Out Activities

 Blogs on Management Ideas for the Next Administration

 Blogs on Advice for the New Team

Blogs on What Other Groups Are Doing


I’ll expand this list over time, so you might want to bookmark this page and return to it when you might be looking for something particular.


Also, I’m getting so much stuff, I’ll start blogging more frequently, with shorter blogs.  Would like to see how that works for you. Let me know. 

Government Reform: Collaborative Perspective

August 21, 2008
John Kamensky, Senior Fellow, IBM Center for The Business of Government

John Kamensky, Senior Fellow, IBM Center for The Business of Government

A fourth perspective of what constitutes good public management, is what I dub the Collaborative perspective.  It is growing in practice and is increasingly reported in the academic literature as a new way of thinking about how large enterprises, or institutions, work. For an adherent to the Collaborative perspective, good public management would mean developing a clear set of common purposes and developing the institutional mechanisms to engage organizations and individuals in “peer-to-peer”-types of arrangements. It does not fit neatly in any of the three more accepted models described earlier.

As described by Professor Charles Heckscher, a “collaborative enterprise” is comprised of both a formal hierarchical network and a relatively formalized peer network. It operates both within a market and within a network of alliance relationships that are much like those that can evolve in the Civil Society perspective – extended relationships that cross hierarchical boundaries. In the public sector, this perspective has been developed in Canada as part of its “horizontal government” initiative and in the United Kingdom under its “joined up government” initiative. In the U.S., agencies like the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control are pioneering the Collaborative approach.

Part of the reason for the slow adoption rate of the Collaborative perspective in the U.S. has been the need to be responsive to diverse accountability and funding agents (e.g., the Environmental Protection Agency is accountable to more than 70 congressional committees and subcommittees). Also, the career track of those who engage in collaborative efforts is still vague in comparison to the career track of employees who engage in traditional bureaucracies.

Collaborative organizations are centered on the knowledge and skills needed to address flexible tasks that are hard to define in advance. In contrast, the traditional hierarchical organization is product-oriented and addresses standardized and routine tasks that are predictable in nature.

The principal characteristics of a collaborative approach include:

  • * People who are interdependent with one another and are intolerant of those who do not pull their own weight.
  • * People who see “performance” as the most important attribute of contribution where the important question is not position or status but “what can you contribute to the mission?”
  • * Trust being based on the belief that everyone is working toward a collective goal.
  • * The central organizing principle is seen as the mission or collective purpose, not the agency or hierarchy.
  • * Flexible boundaries between levels of government, as well as between government private, and non-profit organizations, are good.

Central values in a collaborative approach to governance include:

  • * A focus on the capability for contribution, not an individual’s formal position in an organization.
  • * Dialogue and openness.
  • * Helpfulness towards others, often demonstrated by the transparent, or free, sharing of information
  • * Openness to the outside
  • * Embracing diversity of capabilities.

There are three sets of practices that help create a collaborative social infrastructure:

  • * Creating shared purpose, building and maintaining a unifying sense of purpose by fostering one-way and two-way dialogue – similar to the Civil Society perspective – and creating shared vision and value statements.
  • * Organizing and formalizing peer or associated relationships by creating linking roles between organizations; providing information transparency; using explicit, not implicit, processes and common platforms; developing negotiation skills and systems within agencies; and replacing informal personal relationships with systematic process management skills focused on performance and capability.
  • * Connecting these systems to the outside world by increasing planning and sensing efforts, developing planning and priority-setting approaches, and combining sensing and planning efforts.

Heckscher says that the collaborative approach challenges the values of both the hierarchical and market-based approaches:

“. . . . those who hold the value of democracy as primary will be dissatisfied with the collaborative model: it does not imply equal rights to power or processes of majority rule. . .. .it does involve a radical challenge to hierarchy.”

The use of power must be justified on the basis of common purpose, not position. The collaborative model is also not the same as meritocracy, because that implies that those with the most merit rise to power. Collaboration minimizes the concept of “position” and doesn’t have much use for the concept of general merit – it focuses instead on contribution.

Options the Next President Might Consider for Achieving
“Good Public Management” From a Collaborative Perspective

A president who subscribes to a Collaborative perspective might support initiatives such as:

  • * Continuing the development of the Lines of Business, shared services, and enterprise architecture initiatives to ensure a common administrative and technical backbone to support cross-organizational collaboration.
  • * Using the Key National Indicators Initiative as an impetus for identifying, creating consensus around, and organizing Administration priorities around outcomes.
  • * Extending the use of Presidential National Strategies as a way to articulate a government-wide focus on key priorities. National strategies are currently being used by the current Administration as a tool for pursuing outcomes that reach across federal agencies, as well as states, localities, and non-governmental organizations. A president in a future Administration would use them as the organizing building blocks for acting collaboratively on these strategies. For example, he or she might create a new White House Council – such as a National Performance Council – to guide nationwide outcome achievements in key national areas such as housing, healthcare, or environment. Its operations might be based on an adaptation of Baltimore’s Citi-stat or the Washington State “Government Management Accountability and Performance” system.
  • * Encouraging the use of Web 2.0 tools as a way of creating communities of practice and grass-roots action networks inside government, across agency boundaries, much like the Intelligence Community is doing today.


January 15, 2008

Bob Tobias, the director of American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy Implementation, wrote a short piece in the Washington Post last month about how it is important that the next President create a focus on implementing policy, not just creating it.  He recommends regular meetings with cabinet secretaries to review their department’s performance goals as one way of demonstrating commitment.

Are there better ways for a President to ensure things happen as a result of policies made?  After all, the President has multiple responsibilities – head of state, commander-in-chief, policy leader, etc.  How can he or she be expected to engage in the time-consuming job of ensuring things get done by government, other than the occasional disaster or crisis?

What are some of the options?

Tobias suggests one-on-one meetings between the President and each cabinet secretary on his or her Department’s performance.  Historically, the President has met one-on-one with secretaries on policy development, on specific problems, and on budget appeals.  Adding “performance” meetings to mix might be a stretch, but worthwhile.

Another approach, which has never been used very successfully in the U.S., would be to convene regular cabinet meetings.  While attempted by past Presidents, such as Jimmy Carter, these meeting tend to oftentimes be more symbolic than substantive, since the substantive interactions have typically been carried out through White House staff and OMB.

A third option would be to restructure an existing communication channel between a secretary and the President.  Most Presidents receive a weekly summary of “what’s going on” from their cabinet secretaries, which are collected by the Cabinet Secretary – a White House official who coordinates all communications between the Cabinet and the President.  The President could ask the Cabinet Secretary to have these informal weekly notes be more structured and organized around outcome-oriented themes, such as those outlined in each agency’s strategic plans.  In the past, Presidents would receive dozens of pages of unstructured information from their cabinet members, on important issues, but not necessarily around outcome-oriented, or implementation-oriented themes.  While this creates a more structured information channel, it does not necessarily result in regular interaction.

A fourth option, used by President Bush, is the use of publicly-available scorecards on how well programs work.  The scorecard approach rates individual programs and the management capacity of major agencies.  This approach creates a White House-level focus on results, but this is agency- and program-specific.  It does not capture how government works across boundaries.

A fifth option, discussed with more frequency, is the adaptation of the Baltimore CitiStat approach at the federal level.  This approach could create a strong focal point for cross-agency and cross-program implementation efforts around selected major policy initiatives.  But doing this would require some institutional changes in the how the White House staff is structured and this would need to be done early in a new Administration, maybe even in the transition when all the White House staff positions are vacant (and able to be reallocated).

There are probably more options, but the notion that Tobias raises – having a President who creates and uses institutional mechanisms to ensure policy implementation occurs – is appealing.  The means for doing this, however, will depend more on the leadership style and strategy of the next President.