What gets measured gets done
Something I wrote in February 2004 seems relevant because Otis White's latest e-newsletter talks about Mayor Bloomberg expanding the 311 city problem tracking system in 2002, and how this is pathbreaking....
In the classic business book In Search of Excellence, the authors coined the famous phrase "what gets measured gets done" to refer to companies that outperform their peers because of a greater focus on what matters. Of course, being sure that organizations focus on what matters is always a problem, as is a focus on accountability. Today's Austin American-Statesman talks about how the City of Austin updates 4,000 different performance measures weekly, from library circulation statistics to how the city is meeting its goals, and it posts this data to the city website. This is an expansion of their public communication of such data, which since the mid-1990s had been published quarterly.
Similarly, the Citistats program in Baltimore is a finalist in Harvard's Ash Institute annual program highlighting governmental innovation. The program is written about by syndicated columnist Neal Peirce in this article.
Citistats marries data tracking and analysis with accountability for improvement, comparable to the CompStat program initiated by Jack Maple and William Bratton in NYC, a program which led to big change in policing strategies and tactics, and a concomitant reduction in crime. Peirce quotes Mayor O'Malley stating that “success comes only with constant and intense executive pressure, plus relentless follow-up with departments.”
I looked at the government services section of http://www.dc.gov, but I haven't been able to locate similar data sets. We need them.