Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

JCCI Releases Report on City Government Finances

The Jacksonville Community Council Inc. (JCCI) has released a new study called Our Money, Our City: Financing Jacksonville's Future. The report is a result of eight months of work of a volunteer citizen task force exploring local government finances.

I share this with you because one of the conclusions of the report speaks to our ongoing conversations about government performance measures. From the report:

Jacksonville lacks the kind of transparent performance management measurement and benchmarking systems necessary to demonstrate efficiency and effectiveness in
government, and to build confidence in government’s stewardship of taxpayer money. Therefore, many residents of Jacksonville do not trust government to spend their tax
money wisely.

The report recommends that:

Based on a clearly stated set of roles and priorities for City government, the Mayor and City Council should establish and make publicly available explicit financial and operating goals together with appropriate performance standards (i.e. “benchmarks”) for use in evaluating actual performance. This level of accountability is critical for providing citizens with a tool to help determine the effectiveness of local government as well as the efficient use of taxpayer dollars. As part of developing this performance measurement system, the City of Jacksonville should participate in state and national organizations, such as the Florida Benchmarking Consortium, which allow cities to compare performance in key areas with other cities known for delivering high levels of service with high efficiency.

At the study release press conference, attended by over 150 community leaders and interested citizens, study chair J.F. Bryan IV said, "We don’t have the kind of transparent performance management, measurement and benchmarking systems needed to adequately demonstrate efficiency and effectiveness. You can’t manage what you don’t measure."

The early press reports of the study focus on the current financial crisis being experienced by the City and the hard choices between raising revenues and/or cutting services that Jacksonville must make. But central to making those decisions is the need to build public trust, and the development of transparent performance measures is seen as a critical component to developing that trust.

I'll keep you informed as the conversation continues ... this promises to be an interesting opportunity to transform the relationship between the people and government. I thought this group might want to think about the connections between community indicator systems and government performance measures that are designed for public trust, not just internal management efficiencies.


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