Salt Lake County is learning about performance management from Baltimore and Montgomery County

Robert Cenname, Baltimore Budget Director and RFA Local Government Fellow, reviews Baltimore’s outcome budgeting with Salt Lake County government staff.
  • The use of data is contagious and with the right approach, it becomes part of the fabric of the county culture. Both Montgomery County and Baltimore shared examples of departments wanting to engage in the performance management processes. They spoke of seeing the power of data visualization when requesting resources and/or illustrating a challenge. However, data can also be overwhelming, so it is important to be clear about what data is wanted and for what purpose. Excessive data in spreadsheets does not serve anyone.
  • Executive Leadership’s Priorities must be established and known. Both Montgomery County and Baltimore spoke of the importance of established Mayoral and County Executive priorities. Without these, there is nothing universal to map outcomes and priorities to. Both jurisdictions have used consultants to help refine these priorities.
  • Relationship management is the key to a successful CountyStat or performance office. Both Montgomery County and Baltimore drove home the point that CitiStat/CountyStat offices need to establish the right kind of reputation out the gate. Montgomery County’s CountyStat office’s first order of business was to “build trust and reputation.” Building trust and a good reputation requires establishing relationships over time. Invest up front and it will pay off in the long run.
  • Hire the right people. Montgomery County shared information about their hiring process, which they emphasized as critical. While individuals need to have the technical know-how, having curiosity, patience, a dedication to improvement and the ability to build relationships make all the difference.
  • Establishing partnerships, whether they be academic, peer or otherwise, are critical for expanding bandwidth and knowledge transfer. Both jurisdictions use local academic institutions to further their work. Whether it was for survey development, establishing performance measures or studying a specific initiative, both jurisdictions leverage the resources of top-notch academic institutions.
  • Tools do not have to be expensive. All jurisdictions are doing a lot of work with commonplace and inexpensive tools such as Power BI, Tableau, and Excel.
  • Routine community surveys are critical. Baltimore started administering a community survey many years ago. They believe that positive external service surveys should be reflective of quality internal services. This baseline data has been key to focusing on which programs are working and where to adjust. Additionally, it is useful to include the residents’ perspective in the display of information. Montgomery County recommitted to conducting a bi-annual resident satisfaction survey in 2017.
The Salt Lake County team poses for a picture with Ekua Malonde, Deputy Director of Baltimore CitiStat, following a great conversation.

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Working with decision-makers at all levels of government to harness the power of evidence and data to solve the world’s greatest challenges.