One of the most important things I did after my first election as mayor was to implement a data-driven program that measures the effectiveness and efficiency of City agencies.
The program, called City View, was immensely successful at quantifying problems — and was wildly unpopular in some departments. Three years later, most of its strongest critics have retired or otherwise left City service. Most managers now regard their time at City View as opportunities to show off accomplishments and identify challenges.
One of the earliest converts to the City View ethic was the Building Division. Maybe, engineers, inspectors, and their colleagues are just more comfortable with metrics. Whatever the reason, City View data from the Building Division gave me one way to measure the pace of the City’s sharp growth. And it helped me identify the management skills of former building commissioner Ron Smith, who I subsequently promoted to be the City’s operation manager.
Previewing the Building Division’s next presentation, I know that they issued more building permits in FY05 than in FY04; that permits for new single family and multi-family residences increased dramatically; that more than 86 percent of the permits issued were granted over-the-counter in one day; and that occupancy and trades permits both climbed sharply.
I also know that the Building Division is taking my order to make St. Louis lead-safe seriously: they made or supervised the creation of more than 200 lead-safe dwellings, generated revenue for the lead remediation fund, and performed 4,703 lead inspections. And, I know that they referred more than 3,300 cases to Housing Court. (When Housing Court shows up at City View, I’ll know what happened to those cases.)
There’s a lot more, but you get the point.