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Home > Leadership > Mayor > CitiStat Buffalo > Archive CitiStat Buffalo In The News > 2006 Archives > CitiStat Begins Tracking Of Operations

CitiStat Begins Tracking Of Operations

Copyright 2006 The Buffalo News
Buffalo News (New York)
Byline:By Brian Meyer - News Staff Reporter

CitiStat, Buffalo's long-awaited computerized accountability system, was launched Friday and is already spotting problems with some operations.

Mayor Byron W. Brown and other top city officials kicked off the program, which has taken over most of the 18th floor of City Hall. A new state-of-the-art "war room" has been created and will be the place where a team of city trouble-shooters will hold administrators' feet to the fire every two weeks.

"We will be utilizing this tool in a very relentless fashion to make sure the delivery of services in every department in city government is efficient and accountable," Brown told a packed room.

In the midst of the rollout, officials found that the use of compensatory and other time off in the Citizens Services Division was higher in recent months than it should have been. As a result, there were delays handling some complaint calls from citizens.

Division Director Oswaldo Mestre Jr. said an employee has been on prolonged medical leave, a fact that has driven up time-off figures and the number of lost complaint calls. He vowed to resolve the problem, and the CitiStat review team, made of Brown and five Cabinet members, brainstormed on ways to improve the handling of complaints. One option: deploying clerks from other departments to help staff the hotline during periods when call volumes increase, including weeks when garbage user fee bills are mailed.

This is how CitiStat should work, officials emphasized. Bring top officials together frequently, arming them with timely data that allows them to track everything from service-delivery to work force trends. Encourage them to challenge program managers. And perhaps most important, remind the managers that they'll be held accountable.

One example surfaced at Friday's two-hour meeting. First Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey blanched when he scoured data indicating that some departments had high rates of unresolved citizen complaint calls.

"That's your first goal," Casey told Mestre. "When you come back here in two weeks, every one of the departments has to be below 50 percent."

Human Resources Commissioner Leonard A. Matarese, a member of the CitiStat review panel, said the main goal should be to improve services so that complaints don't pour in. .

Buffalo's CitiStat program is modeled on similar systems that are credited with saving millions of dollars and improving services in Baltimore and New York City.