Bringing Performance to Life in Austin

July 8, 2016 11:00 am PST | Data as a Service
Austin, Texas

This June, the city of Austin, Texas, launched its Performance ATX initiative, replacing the city’s static PDF report in favor of an interactive experience. City of Austin Acting Chief Performance Officer Kimberly Olivares championed the initiative and recently spoke with us about the program and what advice she has for other cities.

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Socrata: Tell us about your new initiative.
Kimberly Olivares: Performance ATX, the City of Austin’s annual performance report, brings the city’s performance to life. Our intent is to improve government from the inside-out in order to better serve the community. Our Austin community is wired in and we hope to do our part to make it easy to engage with local government.

We are excited to make this digital report available and hope it enriches our civic dialogue around how the city is delivering public services and responding to community needs, and how we can continue to do better. This is an important step in providing the Austin community with an easier way to interact with how their government is performing.

Socrata: How does this effort work together with other government programs?
Olivares: Performance ATX presents progress on over 120 key performance indicators. The focus is on direct services to residents, featuring a “citywide dashboard” of 21 critical indicators and clickable categories organized around public safety, mobility and infrastructure, development services, utilities and major business, community services, and financial health.

Performance measurement, tracking, and review ties to city departments’ annual business planning and the annual budget. We use this information to track performance and regularly review and adjust.

Moving beyond the city’s static PDF report has been a major part of our multi-pronged strategy in pursuit of performance excellence. Our team focuses on adaptive strategic planning, business performance planning, enterprise alignment and impact, customer research, integrated continuous improvement — all underscored by citizen and employee engagement.

Socrata: What’s next for Performance ATX?
Olivares: Placing Austin’s annual performance report in a digital interactive format is a move toward further opening a dialogue around the city’s performance. It is our first time adding photos and visualizations tied to open data, and we have thousands of views already! The platform has spurred important conversations inside and outside our organization, and we look forward to feedback from Austin residents and other visitors to the site.

Socrata: What advice do you have for other governments considering rolling out a program like yours?
Olivares: Our advice is to start small. Don’t wait on perfection. Get started with one aspect that matters, and build on what works. We know this annual report is not flawless, and we also know that it is a major improvement from last year’s 216-page PDF document. Plus, the feedback rolling in is helping our team and Socrata’s development team in real-time without delay.

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