I recently unveiled a balanced $5.1 billion proposed total city budget for the coming fiscal year. This wasn’t easy to do with revenue limitations, growing pension and debt obligations, and an ever-increasing demand for City services. We were able to submit this balanced budget in large part due to a tremendous effort to become a leaner and more efficient government. The City has honed its focus on performance improvement and data-driven management.
When I became Mayor, I saw an opportunity to further encourage and develop the talents of our dedicated employees by providing Lean Six Sigma training, a systematic problem solving technique intended to reduce waste, improve processes and enhance quality of operations. While we weren’t the first City to adopt Lean Six Sigma methods, we’ve built one of the largest and most intensive public quality regimens in the world!
If you only drove your vehicle three days a week, would you still keep it? Would you spend the time and money needed to maintain and repair the vehicle? Now imagine what you would do if you were in charge of a fleet of vehicles.
The Fleet Management Department is responsible for ensuring the City of Houston’s nearly 12,000 vehicles are working properly and efficiently. Fleet vehicles range from police squad cars, fire trucks, animal control vans, and many other service-related automobiles. We need a wide variety of vehicles to provide all the services the public expects from its city.
The problem is – how do we determine that a vehicle is being used enough to justify keeping it around. Over the last year, Fleet Management tackled the issue of underused vehicles and attempted to optimize our fleet levels. The number of vehicles in the City’s fleet decreased by 5% from the beginning of FY14 due in part to a consolidation of vehicles through fleet sharing programs and the Fleet Management Department working with City Departments to identify underused vehicles.
Vehicles that were underused were reassigned to replace older vehicles, and the City is pursuing an aggressive strategy to sell older vehicles that are no longer needed. The goal is to have a “fit fleet” that allows City employees to perform services necessary for public safety, health and quality of life.
Paul Fagin is a Staff Analyst for the City of Houston Finance Department and is a member of the Performance Improvement Division. Paul received his Master of Public Administration from Texas A&M University and his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin.
As we conclude the first year of producing these Performance Insight reports, I’d like to provide an update on the ongoing work to improve our performance. Over the past year we focused on developing meaningful internal and external-facing performance measures, and creating a culture of accountability through data-driven management. We improved data quality and processes to support validation. We developed a follow-up process to encourage action when performance does not meet expectations.
The goal of Performance Insight is to go beyond simply reporting performance and begin to use the report as a tool to manage and improve performance on an on-going basis. As an executive scorecard, my staff and I use this report to lead constructive, data-driven discussions with department directors on the performance of the City’s core functions.
All across the country, cites are figuring out innovative ways to do more with less. The City of Houston is no exception. Some of the smartest people in the world call Houston home and we invite you to help us make government more effective. Through this report and our newly launched Performance Improvement Portal, citizens are now able to learn more about how the City is performing and can become involved in identifying solutions.
When I arrived in the Mayor's Office, I focused the work of the City on five strategic priorities: Jobs & Sustainable Development, Public Safety, Infrastructure, Quality of Life and Fiscal Responsibility. These priorities permeate every aspect of my Administration and are now institutionalized in budgets, policies and day‐to‐day operations.