The PhillyStat program returns today, and still has a very wide range of potential: It can either a) help make city government more efficient and transparent, as intended, or b) waste the time of officials who should be running the government.
The program, which was started and run by Mayor Nutter's first Managing Director Camille Barnett, aims to deliver information on departmental performance to the managing director and the public.
Under Barnett, PhillyStat involved officials delivering data to the managing director in public meetings, which sometimes felt a bit scripted.
When Barnett left and Richard Negrin took over as managing director, he suspended the program for evaluation, saying it was good for reporting out to the public but didn't have much value as a management tool, i.e. improving performance.
We asked Negrin how this new incarnation of PhillyStat differs from its predecessor. The new PhillyStat, he said, will have two components: "Outcomes meetings" will involve department heads reporting to the mayor on the city's progress toward an overarching goal (the mayor has identified five such goals, which Troy Graham lists here).
"Operations meetings," by contrast,will involve the leadership of a specific department reporting to the managing director and his staff on performance measures and problems, and answering questions. Negrin says these will be like a basic "corporate operations review," and only partially scripted – the department will probably begin with a PowerPoint presentation, but won't know what questions they'll be getting from the managing director's staff.
The idea seems to be to focus on "reporting out" in the Outcomes meetings, and performance management in the Operations meetings – though both types of meetings will be open to the public.
Will the operations meetings really deliver the performance management goods? We're headed over to the MSB to watch the action (there's a meeting on public safety at 9:30 a.m. and a meeting on 311 at 1:00 p.m.), and if you're feeling helpful you can tune in on Channel 64 and tweet us your thoughts @ourmoneyphilly. We'll retweet them. Probably. No promises, we need to see them first.
Previously: The It's Our Money podcast designs a performance management tool suspiciously similar to PhillyStat.