By: Julie Steenson, Deputy Performance Officer
A talented young animator from Missouri once said that you must “do your best work – then try to trump it” – Walt Disney. This Chartland blog post is all about a recent reinvigoration of the City of Kansas City’s efforts to be a data-driven city. Yes, I know, a data blog about using data.
First, a little history of data-driven management in KC: In 2009, the City of Kansas City developed the Office of Performance Management. This office was created by City Manager Troy Schulte so that he could regularly examine data coming from the City’s operating departments and 311 Call Center. In 2011, Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James requested that the city initiate an external data program, KCStat, which has become a mechanism for city staff to collaborate around the city’s highest goals in the Citywide Business Plan. The Office of Performance Management and KCStat evolved iteratively and adopted best practices, such as those described by Dr. Bob Behn (who has a super great blog on this topic!).
In 2015, because of the strong foundation built in the prior five years, the City of Kansas City was chosen to participate in the inaugural class of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities program. As part of this program, Kansas City developed two scopes of work, one the GovEx program at John’s Hopkins University and another with the Sunlight Foundation.
Kansas City’s work with Sunlight focused on OpenData KC. The GovEx team helped craft a new framework for pursuing and examining data with city departments. And here’s where the moral of Walt Disney’s above quote intersects with this story…it became evident to us, in the Office of Performance Management that our best work could get better.
The GovEx team performed a series of incredible interviews and deployed a survey to city department directors. In aggregate, the results indicated that the internal meetings needed a little boost in purpose and structure. In reaction, the Office of Performance Management developed a tool to help departments identify three to five “bold goals” that could benefit from applying tools of data analysis and process improvement.
The true benefit of this framework is that now, like the external facing KCStat, this internal “DepartmentStat” structure gives both discipline and momentum to shared goals of department staff and the City Manager.
For more information on Kansas City’s engagement with What Works Cities, see the City Feature on Kansas City.