New Orleans is a fantastic city that has had its share of challenges over the last few years. We spent the first week doing discovery: interviewing and meeting Mayor Mitchell Landrieu, many members of his staff, community leaders, the US Army Corps of Engineers, representatives from Tulane University, and the local IBM team. We collected a virtual library of documents and held workshops to explore key issues in greater depth. Over the course of the three week period we met with over 60 people representing a wide cross-section of perspectives and interests who provided us with a view of the beauty and potential of the City of New Orleans, as well as the challenges the city faces in realizing that potential. We met some truly fantastic people with incredible capabilities and insight, many of whom left lasting impressions on us all.
We spent the second week establishing the scope of the problem, attempting to address not only the issues raised in the New Orleans SSC application, but also those re-enforced through the discovery process. Our scope was to address planning and performance management issues to help the city determine what services they should provide, at what service levels, and how should they provide them efficiently, effectively, and within available resources in order to maximize outcomes delivered to its citizens. In order to do that, we also had to address the creation of an effective Information Supply Chain to provide the information needed to do the planning and performance assessment, and to drive appropriate actions for closing gaps between needs and capabilities.
We then analyzed our findings from the discovery process and formed a set of hypothesis that organized and guided our vision, recommendations and roadmap for enabling New Orleans to become a 21st century City. Our findings centered around four areas or themes. The first was Mayor Landrieu’s vision for 21st Century Government: establishing a culture of performance through objective metrics and actions that drive how government organizations work in order to do more with less. The Mayor wants to be able to see, hear and know how the city is performing against priorities in order to create appropriate actions for closing any required performance gaps. The second theme was Active Community Partnering. No city has the resources required to address all problems. Partnering with the community establishes a collaborative environment in which citizen priorities and needs can be accurately assessed and the hard choices that have to be made can be shared between the service consumers and providers. Open government is needed to provide citizens the information they need in order to contribute to their government and to achieve common good. The third theme was Outcome Based Culture, which recognizes that the role of government is to deliver outcomes that address citizen needs, at a price they are willing to pay. The City’s planning process, Budgeting for Outcomes, was designed to support delivering the most high-priority outcomes possible with available revenue. Key performance indicators are established to ensure operations deliver the planned outcomes, helping realize citizen needs and city goals. The final theme was Data Informed Decision Making, which includes ensuring decisions, actions and operations were driven and informed by complete, accurate, timely and secure data to the stakeholders that need it, and in a form that they can consume.
Jim Amsden is an IBM Solution Architect, Government Industry.