The city of Charlottesville unveiled a performance measurement system Wednesday that officials said will improve their business practices, budget decisions and accountability.

City staff have been working on the project since 2008. Inside City Hall, the project is known as the P3 system which stands for Plan, Perform and Perfect. “Today we are highlighting the measurements at the department level,” said City Manager Maurice Jones. “That will be followed by [tracking of] outcomes … which we believe will tell a story of how well our city government is running, and it’s also going to give us insights on how we can improve.”

“We know that it’s going to help guide us on making important decisions about where we are investing our time, energy and funding in the future,” Jones added. “We are thrilled that the citizens of Charlottesville will have another way of evaluating how we are doing as an organization.”

The city’s director of budget and performance management, Leslie Beauregard, said the project will be known to citizens as Charlottesville Measures Up! At an event in CitySpace, Beauregard unveiled the web portal, which allows the public to see the vision, mission and performance objectives for a variety of city departments.

“This is the first time we have had a system which puts [performance data] all in the same place,” Beauregard said. “It provides a means for analyzing data, providing some narrative on recommendations, and seeing throughout time in a single system how things have changed.”

“We’ve done all this without adding a single [staff] position, which is a very impressive feat,” Beauregard added. The city is paying Ascendant Strategy Management group about $25,000 annually for use and support of its ClearPoint Strategy balanced scorecard software. The online scorecards are housed on the company’s web servers and displayed within pages on the city’s website.

One city department leader said the work on his scorecard had already changed his approach to business. Charlottesville Fire Chief Charles Werner said his department used to have a pretty simplistic performance measurement: “Did we put the fire out?”

“We are now looking at how effectively we were able to extinguish the fire in the room of origin,” Werner said. “We want to do that 95 percent of the time. We have also looked at everything we do and asked, ‘What are we doing, why are we doing it, should we continue to do it, and are we doing it the best that we can?’”

According to the online scorecard, Werner’s department has been able to contain fires to the room of origin more than 80 percent of the time in five out of six years measured.

“P3 has said this is not your mother or father’s fire department, this is a new world,” Werner said. “This is taking the resources that we are provided by the city’s taxpayers and [ensuring] we give you the best bang for the buck, to be the most efficient and the most effective.”

Jones said the unveiling of the departmental measurements represents the completion of the first phase of the P3 project. Between now and April, Beauregard will integrate the goals established by the City Council.

Asked if the council would move toward data-driven evaluations of its own goals, Jones was tentative, emphasizing the importance of each department getting plugged into the new process first.

“This will be one tool that council will use, in addition to what they are hearing from the public,” Jones said. “The vision changes from council to council, so we felt it was really important to get the organization really involved first, and then bring that discussion back to council.”

The departmental scorecards can be viewed at www.charlottesville.org/measureup.

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