Las Vegas’s new performance management system, Results Vegas, demonstrates the city’s commitment to using performance data to help drive results—and a willingness to learn from past efforts. City Manager Betsy Fretwell describes the city’s process for creating a system that breaks down silos, is adaptive to change, and can help the city achieve its core purpose: building community to make life better for residents.
June 28, 2016 – The city of Las Vegas has a strong tradition of using performance data to help drive results. We implemented our Performance Plus system in 2007 to lead the city toward a more accountable and transparent government for our citizens, and we have seen many positive results.
However, a self-assessment conducted during 2015–16 revealed opportunities for improvement: the number of performance and operational measures had ballooned to 600; many measures focused on outputs, rather than outcomes; and only 20 percent of city staff reported that all of the key performance measures in their strategic business plans reflected top priorities. In addition, our performance management meetings had become focused on critical issues in individual departments, with little emphasis on performance measures overall. Clearly, my executive team and I felt that Las Vegas’s performance management system could be more aligned to the city’s strategic priorities and more focused on outcomes.
Las Vegas was fortunate to be selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies as a What Works city in December 2015, providing us with the impetus and technical expertise necessary to revamp our performance management system. We worked with city departments aligned to five key city priorities: economic diversification, education, homelessness, transportation mobility, and fire. Utilizing the expertise of the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, a What Works Cities partner, we guided each department through a process to redefine its goals to focus more on outcomes. Each department was asked to develop only one key performance indicator and several related supporting measures. This was a challenging process that engaged internal and external stakeholders and pushed departments to think beyond outputs toward more policy-oriented outcomes.
Drawing on the lessons learned during this pilot phase, we have rebranded our performance management system as “Results Vegas” and are rolling it out to all city departments in three phases. To emphasize the importance of this initiative, we have designated Results Vegas as the citywide thematic goal for the period of May 2016 through December 2016. Key objectives include:
1. completing the citywide strategic plan;
2. redesigning departmental strategic business plans so they are aligned with the city’s strategic plan and priorities;
3. developing a single key performance indicator and several supporting measures in each department that are aligned with the city’s strategic plan and priorities;
4. integrating the city’s strategic priorities and performance measures into the budgeting process;
5. refocusing performance management meetings on using data to influence decision-making and improve outcomes;
6. and promoting civic engagement by implementing a web portal that allows the public to view the city’s progress on its performance measures.
Results Vegas also aims to break down traditional silos that exist between departments. Under Performance Plus, each department met individually with the executive team to discuss performance. In contrast, Results Vegas meetings will bring various departments together to discuss progress toward four citywide priorities: growing economy, neighborhood livability, community risk reduction, and high performing government. Each month, the Results Vegas meeting will focus on a different priority, and all the departments working toward that priority will attend.
Retooling Las Vegas’s performance management system will be a continual process of improvement. Each year, departments will have the opportunity to review their measures to ensure they are aligned with the city’s priorities and to analyze whether strategies or policies need to be modified to achieve desired outcomes. We are mindful that one size does not fit all departments and that external factors will cause priorities to shift over time, but our aim is to create a system that is responsive to change. By using data to improve outcomes, Results Vegas can help the city achieve its core purpose: building community to make life better for residents.