City efficiency review lists 1,100 recommendations for change
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 09, 2010
5/23/12 at 8:49 AM
Read the full KPMG efficiency report.
Read the KPMG report FAQ for city employees.
Related story: City's response on 'big picture' review is mixed.
An independent efficiency review of Tulsa's government released Wednesday by Mayor Dewey Bartlett identifies hundreds of city services that could be eliminated, outsourced, consolidated or continued through public-private or inter-agency partnerships.
The 282-page final report by KPMG, an efficiency consulting firm, lists 1,512 services that are provided by 20 city departments, excluding the City Council, the Tulsa Airport Authority and Gilcrease Museum.
It's quite literally an accounting of each and every thing the departments do. Each service is color-coded and scored based on whether it is mandated by City Charter or law, aligned with core functions and how well it is structured and performed. The report makes 1,100 recommendations.
Bartlett is calling the report a "road map" to the city's financial health.
"We have outstanding employees, but some inefficient, outdated processes and programs," he said. "This report provides recommendations on how to remove those inefficiencies and better utilize taxpayer money."
The number of services identified is roughly double what KPMG has found in other cities, Bartlett said. That may indicate that Tulsa, over the years, has bitten off more than it can chew.
"For a long time we've been humming along, doing fine economically, and so we haven't had the need - or been forced - to take a serious look inward," Bartlett said.
"But, unfortunately, we're not in that situation anymore. We have to re-evaluate what we're doing as a city in order to sustain ourselves."
He cautioned that the report, which was privately funded by the Tulsa Community Foundation and other donors, merely contains recommendations.
It's up to his administration, the City Council, the city auditor and city employees to determine which ones to adopt.
To lead that effort, Bartlett has established a Management Review Office, headed by City Auditor Preston Doerflinger, to evaluate which recommendations to pursue and establish time frames for their application.
Eliminate: The KPMG report identifies 132 city services that the city could consider strategically eliminating because they are not legally mandated or aligned with core functions.
Top possibilities include the Public Works Department's greenhouse for vegetation replacement, which costs $1.6 million a year; and the school crossing guard program, which has a $575,000 price tag.
Also on the list, among many others, are the Human Resources Department's health fair coordination, which costs $376,000; and the Police Department's many community and volunteer initiatives, including such programs as the Explorers and car seat and seat belt safety checks, which consume $1.5 million per year.
Numerous animal welfare programs also are listed as recommended targets for elimination.
Bartlett stressed that these services are still important to the community and that each will be evaluated carefully.
Outsource: The report identifies 298 services that the city should review with an eye to whether each is more cost-efficient to do in-house or outsource through competitive bids.
They include the equipment administration and maintenance division, which oversees and cares for the municipal fleet of vehicles with the help of 71 employees at a cost of $11.4 million per year.
Also highlighted are the city employees who collect trash in a small section of Tulsa and handle other waste-related duties, at a cost of $14 million; who oversee city buildings, at a cost of $9.5 million; and who process workers compensation claims, at a cost of $5.2 million.
Mayoral Chief of Staff Terry Simonson said employee groups could submit bids to go head-to-head with private firms. In many cases, without the need to generate a profit, the city employee group may be the winner, he said.
"This is about getting the highest quality for the lowest cost," he said.
Consolidate and automate: The report identifies 320 services that could be grouped or modernized.
For example, code enforcement is spread across five city departments. The report suggests that they be consolidated to have a central point of customer contact.
Likewise, purchasing functions are spread across 15 departments, payroll across 14 departments and grant writing across 11 departments.
The report says automation would be helpful in the keeping of time and attendance records for every employee. That is now done by hand.
Partner: The report identifies 270 services that could be continued through public-private partnerships to cut costs.
KPMG cites Tulsa's success at doing this with the partnership between the city and the University of Tulsa to operate Gilcrease Museum.
This could continue with the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, the two city-owned cemeteries, the Public Works Department's environmental operations including the water quality analysis and reporting, and many park community centers, recreation programs and Oxley Nature Center, the report says.
Bartlett said he had been approached by someone on behalf of the major contributors to the PAC who are interested in forming an entity similar to the one that will take over the Tulsa Zoo.
The report also recommends that the operating and capital cost responsibilities of the BOK Center and the Tulsa Convention Center be formally transferred to SMG, the private firm contracted to manage them.
The report says Tulsa could lease its water system to a private utility that would take responsibility for the management, infrastructure upkeep and profit in exchange for cash payments to the city.
Simonson said this idea would need a lot more research but that it has financially rescued other cities and taken the burden of backlogged maintenance off their books.
KPMG also highlights 30 inter-agency partnerships that the city could pursue.
Cited are the Police Department's forensics laboratory, which could provide services to other agencies to reduce costs; the Municipal Courts, which could work with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office in prisoner booking, warrant and probation services; and the city's Human Rights Department, which could partner with the state's Human Rights Commission.
Police: The report identifies 34 Police Department administrative jobs that are now held by sworn officers but could be filled by civilians to put more officers on the streets.
They include crime analysts, public information officers and web content developers, grant writers and property room workers.
Bartlett said, "There are a lot of sworn officers in clerical positions when they could be better used in the field where the citizens need them."
He noted that 34 positions would be more than a new academy would provide.
"Not to minimize what they are doing now, but the city has spent a lot of money training them to be police officers," he said.
The report also recommends that many of the department's training and recruiting functions be integrated into the Human Resources Department.
Work force reduction not a goal: Bartlett said he recognized that talk of service elimination and consolidation could generate fear among the city's roughly 3,900 employees that they could lose their jobs.
Work force reduction is not the goal of this process, he said.
A list of frequently asked questions was posted on the city employee intranet Wednesday afternoon to address those concerns.
"While layoffs cannot be assured against, any conversation about the reduction in workforce is extremely premature," the post states.
"With an $18.2 million shortfall predicted in next year's budget, this report is a precautionary move to best position the city of Tulsa to weather the storm."
The goal, it continues, "is to align city services appropriately to mandates and the budget so that core services will not only be restored, but maintained. The KPMG study is our blueprint for the future."
By the numbers: KPMG review
Original Print Headline: Room for shrinkage
- 1,512 city services identified.
- 132 could be strategically eliminated.
- 298 could be outsourced through competitive bids.
- 270 could become part of public-private partnerships.
- 140 could be consolidated.
- 180 could be shared or automated.
- 61 percent of services are not mandated by law.
- 88 percent have no performance measures in place.
Brian Barber 581-8322
Mayor Dewey Bartlett listens as Bill Zizic of KPMG outlines the firm's efficiency evaluation of Tulsa's city government. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Mayor Dewey Bartlett discusses the opportunities he sees in the efficiency report during a special City Council meeting. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Councilor Roscoe Turner and other councilors join officials as they hear a presentation about potential government cost savings. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
A public-private partnership could take over the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Leasing the city's water system is an option. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
The school crossing guard program could be eliminated. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World