Thursday, May 25, 2017

City Performance Review Released by VCU's Wilder School


Mayor Levar M. Stoney this morning announced the release of a comprehensive performance review of City Hall.

Making good on his campaign promise, the Mayor commissioned the review shortly after taking office to provide him with an idea of what works and doesn’t work in the Richmond city government he inherited when he was sworn in Jan. 1, 2017.

The review, conducted over 100 days by the Performance Management Group (PMG) of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, examines the internal and external challenges facing City agencies, departments and their employees in the performance of their duties.  A copy of the review can be found here.

The review underscores the commitment of “many employees who are actively engaged in ways to make the city a superior place,” and “a workforce ready to step up and help the city move forward in a positive direction.” But it also paints a sobering picture of the state of city government in recent years -- a legacy of underperformance enabled by gaps in technology and training, poor communication, cumbersome processes, inconsistent policies, chronic understaffing and low morale.

“Excessive bureaucracy, micromanagement, unnecessary delays and sometimes poor leadership have led to a system that is often not as agile, responsive internally and externally, or as skillful as it should be for Richmond to become the City it could be,” the report states.

The findings support the results of public surveys conducted by the City Auditor of Richmond residents in 2008 and 2016, which revealed a stark decline in citizen satisfaction with City government, from 81% to 34%.

Specifically, the review revealed “a need for improved financial controls and reporting (Finance), better hiring processes and career development (Human Resources), streamlined procurement practices (Procurement) and upgraded and integrated technology (Information Technology).

“While all departments’ shortcoming must be improved upon, these four touch each department in major ways and are essential if all departments are to effectively deliver services and make city government as a whole healthy,” the review states.

“I am grateful to PMG’s Jim Burke and Linda Pierce and everyone involved in producing this important report,” said Mayor Stoney. “And I also want to thank the dedicated employees of our city government for their frank and honest assessments of how our government works, and in many cases, doesn’t work.

“We have some substantial challenges ahead of us to make City Hall deliver the government the citizens of Richmond deserve, and this report is an important first step in that journey,” the Mayor continued. “Moving forward, our goal with this report is not to re-litigate the past and point fingers. It’s about the fix. With the support of our employees, our City Council and our community, I am confident we will get there.”

Mayor Stoney will immediately implement the report’s recommendation to “create a cross-functional team” to prioritize the performance review report recommendations.

"The mission of the Wilder School is to serve the public interest through scholarship, teaching and direct public service. This includes service to state and local government, through which we provide expert assistance to policymakers and to public administrators," said John Accordino, Ph.D., dean of the Wilder School. "We are delighted to have had the opportunity, through this performance review, to assist the City of Richmond in its efforts to improve the quality of administration."

"It has been a pleasure working on this project to support improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of City Hall," said James M. Burke, Ph.D., director of the Wilder School's Performance Management Group, which led the review. "We know the mayor and his team will consider our recommendations as he prioritizes new initiatives alongside current ones. We are confident the improvements he and employees will bring to City Hall will be evident to the residents of Richmond in the coming years."

For more information on the performance review, please contact Brian McNeill, Public Relations Specialist University Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University (804) -827-0889, (804) 938-7558 (cell) or bwmcneill@vcu.edu.

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