The second in a series of 3 articles on how Cook County Government is embracing the idea of innovative leadership to provide fiscally responsible, improved government services.
Each quarter, Cook County officials in the Public Safety, Property Tax, Economic Development, and Healthcare areas submit performance management data and hold meetings to review their progress. The data from the officials is combined with the data from the Offices Under the President and published in a quarterly STAR Report. To date, there have been 7 published quarterly reports. These reports give the public insight into how the County is managing to their goals and targets.
The Offices under the direction of the President of the County Board have held over 120 weekly sessions which departments present to the President’s senior staff on their progress toward their goals, sub-goals, and key initiatives. These sessions are meant to be a collaborative effort lead by the Performance Management Office, aimed at providing guidance and resources to departments in areas where they may need assistance. As the STAR Program has evolved, departments are increasingly able to present real-time data leading to more productive sessions.
Each month, over 600 metrics are tracked manually for the Offices Under the President. These data points are entered into spreadsheets and sent to the Performance Management Office for review and put into a database for further analysis. Currently, of the 600+ metrics identified to be tracked, 72% are reporting real data. The remaining 28% will begin reporting data by the end of the year. In addition to reporting monthly data, 77% of the metrics have associated targets they are working to meet. The remaining 23% will either have targets set before the end of the year or are being tracked as activity metrics.
For managers throughout the County, STAR has provided a valuable tool that allows them to get data-driven answers to operational and strategic questions. One area identified through performance management that needed improvement was invoice payment cycle time. The Performance Management Office began collecting and circulating cycle time data by department each month. This raised the awareness of the issue to managers and identified bottlenecks, in turn dropping the cycle times considerably. Working closely with agency and department heads to establish goals, set targets and regularly collect and review data, the STAR program has led to several other notable accomplishments to date:
- The collection of $5.2M in delinquent and deficient home rule taxes in FY11 and $1.2M through July of FY12
- A reduction in County energy usage by $930,000 in FY11 and $285,000 through July of FY12
- A reduction of sick time abuse throughout all County departments resulting in increased efficiency and reduced costs
- The mailing of property tax bills on time for the first time in 34 years saving County taxing districts a total of up to $3M per month in borrowing costs
- Reducing the time to hire new employees from 115 to 75 days