Grand Rapids city officials recently reported positive progress in the first year of its four-year strategic plan.
This was the city’s first formal annual performance management report. It follows the creation of a four-year strategic plan, a performance management office, a FY2021 prioritization workshop, a FY2020 midyear performance management update and passage of two budgets aligned to the strategic plan (FY2020 and FY2021).
The progress comes in the face of unanticipated challenges presented by a global pandemic, economic recession and nationwide calls for significant policing reform.
“While these issues may have dominated the headlines and placed new demands on city services, we’ve been able to use the strategic plan as our guide in decision-making,” said Mark Washington, city manager. “This has uniquely positioned us to lean in on these challenges while still making progress on the issues we prioritized in 2019.”
Washington and city staff outlined the progress the city made responding to these events while working steadily to elevate the quality of life in Grand Rapids by providing quality public services throughout FY2020 – July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.
Washington told the city commission the report identifies key accomplishments and lists them by COVID-19 response and recovery, objective and alignment with the city’s values.
“Fiscal Year 2020 brought a significant amount of unanticipated work due to COVID-19,” Washington said. “Staff created FY2020 plans last fall having no way of knowing how much their plans would be impacted by the tremendous amount of additional work that COVID created. This report demonstrates the amazing work staff achieved in response to COVID-19 but also illustrates how much we were able to collectively achieve even during a pandemic.”
Key accomplishments for COVID-19 response and recovery include:
- Enhanced janitorial and custodial services, including frequent sanitization of common touchpoints and deeper cleaning schedules
- COVID-19 Stories: At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic GRPL’s Grand Rapid History and Special Collections department quickly came up with the idea to have residents submit personal stories of their experiences during the pandemic as a way to document life in Grand Rapids during this time. These stories will become a part of the GRPL’s permanent archival collections and will give scholars, historians and medical researchers a record to study in the future.
- Development of Covid-19 PPE guidelines for all city employees
- Conducted research and helped to facilitate the purchase of PPE to address the Covid-19 pandemic
The performance management report also includes measures for 21 key metrics, quantitative assessment of qualitative performance and list of key accomplishments achieved, and honors received from across all city departments.
The city used two different software tools, Socrata and Envisio, to track performance. First, it used Socrata Open Performance to create a Key Metric Dashboard to track the quantitative metrics from the plan.
In fall 2019, the city commission selected 37 of the 140 key metrics in the plan to include on the dashboard. Staff built out 21 and will continue to add more in the future.
Each dashboard metric includes:
- Metric name
- Most recent data point/measure
- Timeframe for the metric
- Status (goal met, near goal, measuring (goal not established yet) or goal not reached)
For example, the city exceeded its goal of having a Grand River water quality index of at least 70. The water quality index measured 73 between July 2018 and June 2019, according to the key metric dashboard.
The city began implementing the second software tool, Envisio, a web-based platform that allows staff to identify, track and measure qualitative performance under the plan. In fall 2019, all departments identified the key activities they work on in alignment to strategic priorities, objectives and strategies.
Every department also selected projects they felt represented the best examples of core values across the city. Staff identified whether each activity was on track, had some disruption or significant disruption or was completed.
The software then aggregated all of these, applying equal weight to every activity. The percentage completion for each activity also was aggregated to give a total percent completion at the objective and priority level. This information is included in the circle charts provided throughout the report.
“I’m proud of staff’s commitment to measuring performance under the plan,” said Alison Waske Sutter, the city’s sustainability and performance management officer. “Some projects take more than one year to complete. This report demonstrates the work we are doing to be more strategic, transparent and accountable with respect to the desired outcomes established in our strategic plan.”