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by Mark Reutter6:32 pmNov 7, 20230

Designated a “program” rather than an “office,” CitiStat will embed personnel in city agencies

The latest stab at improving municipal services will cost an estimated $1.9 million in salaries and equipment

Above: Citistat’s current mission within the Mayor’s Office of Performance and Innovation. (baltimorecity.gov)

CitiStat will be in a position to triple its staff under a City Council bill that avoided a mayoral veto by agreeing to place its data-crunching employees under the umbrella of City Administrator Faith Leach.

Councilman Mark Conway, former acting director at CitiStat, last night announced four changes to Bill 23-0372 following a compromise struck with the staff of Mayor Brandon Scott.

The primary change, which the Council quickly ratified, strips Citistat of its proposed status as an independent city office. Instead, it will remain a “program” within the confines of the Mayor’s Office of Performance and Innovation and ultimately responsible to the city administrator.

“The vision here is to eventually revisit Citistat as part of a bigger office,” Conway said. “For now, we will place it clearly within the CA’s office.”

Mark Conway answers questions at a forum for candidates hoping to succeed 4th District representative Bill Henry. (Ian Round)

Mark Conway answers questions at a 2020 forum for candidates seeking to succeed 4th District Councilman Bill Henry, who currently is city comptroller. (Ian Round)

Lauded, then Overlooked

CitiStat rose to prominence under former Mayor Martin O’Malley as a data-driven means to improve the performance and accountability of city agencies.

It has since atrophied in size and scope, sidelined by a succession of management tools and theories that caught City Hall’s fancy, such as performance management, outcome budgeting, Six Sigma process improvement, transformation management and continuous feedback.

A once-touted program sidelined by a succession of management tools that caught City Hall’s fancy.

Last night, the Council approved the amended bill, with the single dissenting vote coming from 2nd District Councilwoman Danielle McCray, who earlier said she doubted a new layer of management could improve the response times of police, fire and other critical services.

The legislation calls for “embedding” Citistat personnel in police, fire, public works, transportation, health and five other agencies.

To hold the bureaucracy accountable, the City Council wants to resurrect CitiStat (10/31/23)

The anticipated 15 new hires would cost $1.9 million a year in salaries and supplies, according to city budget director Laura Larsen.

The embedded personnel will be charged with using “analytic reviews” to improve agency processes and policies, drafting performance goals with the Bureau of Budget and Management Research, ensuring the placement of accurate data on the city’s Open Data Portal, and meeting monthly with agencies to review “relevant data and statistics that may be used to inform performance measures and policy initiatives,” according to the legislation.

The amended bill calls for a director who has “at least five years of experience in performance management” with a specialty in one of five areas: data science, continuous improvement processes, public policy, process evaluations or program management.

“We want to insure that folks put in this position are truly qualified for the position,” Conway told the Council last night.

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