The Future of Performance Management

April 28, 2015 12:07 pm PST | Data as a Service, Effective Governing

Steve Goldsmith, formerly a deputy mayor of New York City under Michael Bloomberg, and now a professor with the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, steps up at the Socrata Customer Summit to show how open data, open performance, and predictive analytics are transforming government.


Redefining Public Value

At the beginnings of the open data movement, Goldsmith half-jokes, “basically the goal was to see how much data you could get up in as ugly and unreadable fashion as possible.“ Today, instead of measuring how quickly a particular government task is accomplished, or how many responsibilities are managed over a set time period, governments can assess their performance in terms of public value.

Goldsmith offers an example from his days in NYC’s Bloomberg administration: Linda Gibbs, who as a deputy mayor oversaw NYC social services, tasked agencies with transforming their measurement of how well the city served the homeless. Instead of reactive responses, such as how many beds were available on a given night, Gibbs wanted the city’s performance measured by preventing and solving homelessness. Goldsmith notes, now, “with open data and predictive data and data analytics, we can figure out why the person’s homeless, and solve that problem.”

“It’s All About Visualization”

Goldsmith next touches on the power of data visualizations. He cites Boston About Results portal to show how, “the connection between visualizations unlocks discoveries in the stat programs.”

The convergence of open data, stat programs, and predictive analytics in visualization portals can, “dramatically transform the way government works,” Goldsmith states. He walks the audience through several examples of successful portals, including LouieStat and Cook County’s STAR program. In all the programs, Goldsmith explains, “the steps that have been taken in the last three years to visualize data have made it usable, and the utilization of the data will drive the performance of public value.”

The Promise of Predictive Analytics

Municipal transportation, Goldsmith suggests, captures the utility of predictive analytics. Instead of focusing on how many potholes are filled or traffic lights fixed, a city can focus on, “how we manage mobility in a community.” In NYC, the government, “took all the data from GPS readers that were in the taxicabs, and from E-ZPass readers that were in the cars,” and analyzed it and connected it directly to traffic lights. The definition of performance became, “how quickly we moved traffic.”

Goldsmith then highlights several municipal examples of how data analytics, “solve, in advance, a problem.” From mitigating 300 residential firetraps in NYC, to reducing burglaries in Santa Cruz by 27 percent with predictive policing, to reworking parole assignments in Philadelphia, the positive impact on citizens is clear. Municipalities can then, “measure that as an accomplishment,” while also maximizing scarce government resources.

Citizen Engagement

Governments need to combine their internal expertise with citizen input to truly create public value, says Goldsmith. “There’s a lot of information out in the communities themselves,” he notes, so how do governments integrate the data, “that’s in the community with the data that’s in the city enterprise?”

311 call centers are a key way, Goldsmith says. “The next big evolution that’s going to connect to the work you’re doing,” Goldsmith tells his audience, is seeing 311 become, “a platform for community engagement,” not as just a place to complain. “People know how to complain anyway,” Goldsmith jokes, so uniting open data efforts with citizen engagement via 311 apps helps governments, “come up with insights, particularly when we take the time to educate our communities on how they can use our data.”

Employee Empowerment

The more separated government workers are from one another, the more, “we make it impossible for our employees to really work effectively,” Goldsmith declares. Citizens don’t live in separate government agencies, Goldsmith points out, “they live in a neighborhood.”

A major step toward improved performance and increased public value, Goldsmith says, lies in employee empowerment. “The open data movement is most powerful because it lets people see across the agencies,” in ways that were unavailable to citizens before. To be effective, government employees need to be able to respond directly and personally to public input. “If we give employees authority and power and discretion, they can solve problems,” creating a retail type of relationship between government workers and citizens. Those relationships, Goldsmith believes, “will increase performance fairly dramatically,” and transform government.



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