Rapid Access International, Inc.
In 1994, Rudolf Giuliani was elected as mayor of New York City on an anti-crime platform. To help achieve his goals, he turned to the New York City Police Department which developed CompStat to track and fight crime. CompStat is a performance measurement tool which also uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map crime, together with NYPD and other city government data, in order to make informed predictions about where and when crime occurs.
The successes achieved by using this approach to crime prevention had become clear by the end of the 1990s. This was a time when the city of Baltimore, Maryland was considered one of the most crime-ridden cities in the United States.
When Martin O’Malley was elected as the City of Baltimore’s new mayor, he adopted CompStat for the city. But, his aim was not simply to use the performance measurement practices and GIS mapping technologies of CompStat to fight crime. His goal was to use the approach to provide greater accountability and transparency for the city government, and to improve government service delivery. The innovative new approach was called CitiStat.
We spoke with Mr. Robert Cenname in the City of Baltimore’s Department of Finance, who explained that the city government of Baltimore was previously managed under a “gut feel”, meaning there were no real statistics or hard data on which to base many of their decisions. It was all managed under a kind of informal process. Mayor O'Malley wanted to see some statistics and hard data on which to base his decisions.
The new Citistat system at that time managed data on the police department, the fire department, transportation division, public works, recreation and parks, and the health department. All departments were to report to the Mayor every two weeks in a public hearing at City Hall.
In the meeting, each department head is in attendance and there are also analysts from each department to handle issues in real time. This means that issues get handled immediately and quickly by the panel in the Citistat meeting. Mr. Cenname mentioned that there is a lot of pressure on each of the participants in these meetings and it often takes people “out of their comfort zones”.
The success of CitiStat and Mr. O’Malley himself, no doubt, are intertwined. The City of Baltimore and its citizens strongly supported O’Malley and benefited greatly from his unique approach to governance. Now, Mr. O’Malley is the Governor of Maryland, and he has been further demonstrating the benefits and success of his approach by adopting StateStat.
In a series of recent interviews for Government Technology, O’Malley summarized the StateStat approach. “We use the map to plot our challenges, and then we deploy our resources and our efforts to attack those challenges, or to realize those opportunities. There are four basic elements in this method of management. One is timely and accurate information that is shared by all citizens. Rapid deployment of resources, relentless follow-up, and effective tactics and strategies.” The Maryland StateStat Website (http://www.statestat.maryland.gov/) identifies these StateStat tenets as follows:
Just as with CitiStat in Baltimore, StateStat incorporates regular performance measurement meetings. O’Malley explained that these meetings occur every two to three weeks, as the command staff for each department comes before his command staff in the state government and they look at whether they’re doing better in this last period of two to three weeks than they were doing in the prior period. This reflects a much higher level of scrutiny within the government that is largely enable through the data collection and GIS mapping capabilities employed through the StateStat program. Such scrutiny covers public health challenges like the health of the Chesapeake Bay in addition, education metrics, as well as other public services, including crime management and prevention.
The map is really the key component to StateStat. It not only helps to identify the challenges but, as Mr. O’Mally explains, “it tells us where to deploy our limited resources in order to attack those challenges. Admittedly, O’Malley notes that there have been some unique challenges in deploying the CompStat inspired approach at the state level that he did not really face at the municipal level when he was the Mayor of Baltimore.
Mr. O’Malley explained that “policy implementation is a much more important component of governing at the state level than it was at the municipal level.” The municipal level is more basic service and implementation oriented. In illustrating what he meant by this, O’Malley compared the task of fixing a pothole on a Baltimore city street to broader tasks for the state government such as increasing reading level scores of students across Maryland. The latter involves the student; the parent; the teacher; the school principal; the school superintendent; and so on, all the way up to the legislature and the Governor. “It’s a much more attenuated chain of delivery,” explained O’Malley.
According to O’Malley, there are two primary ways in which StateStat can be shown as a success. First is “proving it” by actually showing progress. Second is sharing the information through the internet so that citizens can readily see “how they’re connected to what surrounds them and how these actions affect them and how they are connected to them and the things that are going on around them.” This includes, for example, data on schools, roads, water, and waste water systems, all “portrayed in graphic, dashboard sort of ways what we would put together for the CEO. In our form of government, the citizen is the CEO. So we use maps, we use data, and we use the internet to relay to the citizen what we are doing.”
As part of the Stimulus package initiated by last year in response to the financial and economic crisis, the Obama administration set forth strict transparency guidelines for states to account for stimulus funds. Because of StateStat, Maryland was well situated to track this money. Perhaps partly in response to these requirements, similar management styles have been adopted among a growing number of states. When the Obama Administration launched the Recovery.gov website with graphical state map for citizens to track the money, O’Malley said that Maryland was one of only eight to provide the interactive data. A week later, there were fifteen that were tracking it. Maryland uses GIS on this website to show a complete breakdown of the spending.
Another instance of where managing by the map has drawn particular attention is the environmental remediation successes through Maryland’s BayStat program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that they will apply this method to the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed, which covers 5 states.
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