Having marshaled the efforts of approximately 250 executive volunteers from the Baltimore region’s business and non-profit communities, the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Presidents’ Roundtable undertook a series of comprehensive studies of the City of Baltimore’s Fire, Health, and Public Works Departments, as well as the Departments of Housing and Community Development and Recreation and Parks. Additionally, the City’s use of information technology and its associated planning efforts were evaluated. The cadre of participating executives were given a choice to volunteer to serve on one of the project teams and over 20 subcommittees charged with examining specific areas of Baltimore’s government.As part of the review, members of the project teams and their respective subcommittees met several times with representatives from the senior management teams of the reviewed departments, interviewed staff, reviewed extensive materials provided by the reviewed departments, and conducted site visits. Additionally, input was solicited from stakeholders such as contract providers, funding sources, and businesses and non-profit entities that regularly interact with the reviewed departments. Finally, issue-specific research was done to identify public sector best practices in hopes of identifying particularly effective and efficient initiatives that might be replicated in Baltimore.While the reviewed departments are responsible for the management and delivery of a wide range of City services, efforts were taken to promote a consistent approach across all of the project teams and subcommittees. All of the project teams and subcommittees were directed to present their findings and recommendations in a uniform format that required the following:
– A clear and concise identification of the existing financial, operational, or management problem being addressed by the recommendation;
– A statement of the actionable recommendation(s) being suggested;
– A classification of the type of recommendation (cost saving, organizational, revenue enhancement, service improvement or some combination);
– Estimates of quantifiable (if available) financial or service impacts, associated implementation costs, and projected timelines to accomplish implementation; and
– Information related to potential barriers to implementation, necessary next steps, and research and analysis to support the recommendation.
This approach yielded sets of project team recommendations that form the basis for this report. Each chapter of this report has been organized along the following lines:
– Introduction: A brief overview of the chapter’s content encapsulating all major themes.
– Summary of Recommendations: A complete listing of all recommendations and estimated impacts (where available).
– Recommendations: The detailed analysis for each of the recommendations.
Admittedly, the individual project team reports do not include extensive background information on the reviewed departments and functions. The omission of this historic information was purposeful and consistent with the desires of the O’Malley Administration, the Greater Baltimore Committee, and the Presidents’ Roundtable to keep the final report a recommendation-driven document specifically geared toward identifying opportunities to achieve financial, operational, and service improvements in the reviewed areas.
As a result of this approach, the final report does not provide an exhaustive context for the very formidable challenges inherent in public sector management. In many cases, a confluence of factors such as having a predominately unionized workforce, being required to operate under federal and State mandates, and having annual operating and capital budgets originating from multiple funding sources with a host of restrictions is responsible for long-standing operational practices, organizational configurations, and service priorities. These and other characteristics that are unique to public sector management represent very significant impediments that are generally not understood by the public-at-large and cannot be easily dismissed or changed.
In reviewing the report, it is critical that readers keep in mind the tremendous difficulty associated with efforts to concretely gauge the financial, operational, and service impacts of the recommendations contained herein. Even in instances where extensive and accurate cost and performance data is readily available’a reality rarely encountered during the course of this effort is difficult to quantify the existing managerial and workforce capacities to accomplish implementation. Additionally, the method, scope, and pace of implementation have a direct bearing on the level of achievable benefits.
Despite these challenges, the project teams and subcommittees have attempted to provide estimates of the potential impacts for many recommendations. Every effort has been made to clearly state the assumptions utilized in developing the calculations, but it must be noted that the method of calculation varies with each recommendation. Estimated impacts might be based on anecdotal experiences in other cities and tangible budgetary and cost information or they might represent what the project teams and subcommittees have determined to be achievable goals. Projected productivity increases may be expressed in terms of enabling departments to increase service levels with existing resources or, conversely, maintaining existing service levels with reduced resources. Ultimately, quantifying the true financial, operational, and service impacts that result from the implementation of adopted recommendations is an exercise best left for the future.
Finally, it must be acknowledged that the project teams and subcommittees cannot claim exclusive ownership of every recommendation included in this report. Through its work, participating executives encountered a variety of sources’both inside and outside of the government’that provided insight into the challenges confronting the reviewed departments, and identified opportunities to achieve improvements. In many instances, the genesis of a recommendation can be found in the experiences of other cities, prior operational assessments, and from within the City’s workforce. Whatever the source, ideas to improve Baltimore’s municipal government were not viewed as proprietary in nature and the content of this report is infused with valuable contributions from sources that extend beyond the ranks of participating executive volunteers.