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Citistat To Hold CityAgencies Accountable – QNS.com

Citistat To Hold CityAgencies Accountable

Negotiations are currently underway between the mayor and the City Council to enact legislation for an online database designed to hold city agencies responsible for their work. The bill, written by Councilman Eric Gioia, calls for the installation of a website, Citistat, and was met with considerable approval during Monday’s hearing of the City Council.
“This is common sense, bringing private sector technology into government agencies,” Gioia said. “People pay a lot of money in taxes, and they should get a much better product.”
Along with providing a “transparency” in government to the public, Citistat would also force city agencies to set goals and measure their results, Gioia said, allowing government leaders to better manage the agencies.
Citistat, based on a program first implemented in 2001 in Baltimore, forces city agencies to meet with the mayor and an appointed inquisitor every two weeks. City agencies must prepare documentation and information about how their budget is allocated and what progress they have made since the previous meeting. These findings are then put online for public access, allowing both the public and city officials to track results in each agency.
Much like a private company, the boss — Mayor Michael Bloomberg — would hold each section of his staff accountable for their progress at meetings every two weeks.
The new program would also expand upon a data collection system, Citywide Accountability Program, CAPstat, instituted by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, which posts neighborhood statistics but does not track changes.
With Citistat, New Yorkers will be able to see how many overtime hours were worked in the Department of Buildings, how many broken street lights are in a particular neighborhood, and what are the longest and shortest response times of the FDNY, all with a few clicks of the mouse. Detailed information, which once was available only for the NYPD through Compstat, could now be provided by all city agencies.
In Baltimore, critics originally said that forcing city agencies to collect data will take up a large portion of their time, that calling agency heads into the office every two weeks would lead to undue tension, and that the data would not lead to any major improvements, but those complaints have mostly subsided.
In the three years following the implementation of Citistat, Baltimore officials discovered that over $43 million was being misspent and has since re-allocated the funds.
Gioia said that he hopes the program could show similar findings within city government.
“I can not promise New Yorkers that their tax dollars are being well spent,” said Gioia, who chairs the Oversight and Investigations Committee. “What I’ve seen is tax dollars being wasted and people not being helped.”
In Baltimore, the cost to install Citistat was about $20,000, and the bulk of maintenance costs were about $250,000 per year to pay the salaries of five full-time employees, according to an article in The Baltimore Sun.
What Citistat would cost to install in New York has not yet been determined.
melissa@queenscourier.com

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