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CitiStat in Spotlight as Brown Plans to Track Efficiency
As Mayor Byron W. Brown plots his next 100 days in office, CitiStat will take center stage. The computer tracking system has been widely hailed for making other cities more efficient, holding workers' feet to the fire and saving millions of dollars in the process.
Brown detailed plans to ramp up the high-tech accountability system when he met late last week with The Buffalo News editorial board.
The first two departments to come under the CitiStat microscope in early June will be Public Works, which is responsible for picking up garbage and plowing streets, and the Division of Citizen Services, which deals with residents' complaints.
"We picked these divisions because they really impact on the delivery of services," Brown said.
Other departments will be placed under the CitiStat matrix in phases. By the end of the year, Brown predicted that about three-quarters of all departments would be in the program.
The city plans to convert a floor in City Hall to house CitiStat. The "war room," Brown said, will be equipped with projection equipment and screens that will allow officials easy access to data.
"We'll be asking some pretty tough questions about service delivery," he said.
But money -- or lack of it -- could slow things down. Gov. George E. Pataki vetoed $8 million the city had counted on receiving for efficiency grants, including money needed for computer hardware, software programs and training efforts tied to CitiStat.
"This would have a very negative impact on our ability to effectively implement CitiStat as quickly as we want to," Brown said earlier last week.
The mayor spoke with Pataki on Wednesday and said he was encouraged that the governor pledged to try to find other ways to channel additional money to the city. Brown said Pataki vetoed the efficiency grants based on a legal technicality, dispelling hopes that state lawmakers could override the vetoes.
As Brown marked his first 100 days in office last week, he said many of the policies that have been established focus on spurring economic development.
He noted that a department has been restructured to place more emphasis on attracting businesses and jobs. He appointed Richard M. Tobe, a former member of the control board that oversees city finances, to head the retooled Department of Economic Development, Permits and Inspections. Tobe said he expects certain functions in his department to be subjected to CitiStat scrutiny later in the year.
Another initiative highlighted by Brown involves a "zero tolerance" policy for quality-of-life offenses that include excessive noise, youth curfew violations, graffiti, panhandling and other problems that plague many neighborhoods.
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Photos by Angel Art LTP, compliments of the Greater Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau. Additional photos by Adrian Roselli, compliments of Algonquin Studios