The City of Lowell’s LowellStat program was recently awarded $373, 000 through the state’s Community Innovation Challenge Grant program to lead the development of a common performance indicator system for several Massachusetts cities and towns. The regional application, in partnership with the communities of Amesbury, Somerville, Woburn, and Worcester seeks to promote performance management statewide as well as create a set of common measures by which the communities can compare the performance and efficiency of the delivery of a number of services.
Grant funds will be used to demonstrate to other cities and towns how performance management has positively impacted cities such as Lowell. The funds will also be used to research participating communities’ performance indicators and performance management systems. The project will culminate with the development of common performance indicators that can be applied to all communities statewide as well as a website that can be used to distribute information and share best practices relative to municipal operations.
“The development of a statewide indicator system will lead to the discovery of best practices in service areas such as police, fire, and public works that can be replicated in other communities”, stated Michael Herbert, Lowell’s Data Management Analyst. “Such a tool will not only lead to better and more efficient service delivery in the City of Lowell but ultimately for other communities as well.”
The Community Innovation Challenge Grant is a new competitive grants program developed by the Patrick Administration to provide significant incentives and financial support for one-time or transitional costs related to improving local government service delivery efficiency, service quality, and achieving cost savings through regionalization and efficiency initiatives. The statewide program – funded at only $4 million in this first year – received 100 applications totaling over $20 million from cities, towns, and regional planning agencies across the Commonwealth.
“We are pleased to see the Governor shares our commitment to municipal performance management and are encouraged by the faith they have shown in our LowellStat program to lead this important statewide endeavor”, noted Lowell City Manager Bernie Lynch. “This award reaffirms the decision we made to create the LowellStat program a year and a half ago and acknowledges the good work that has been done in the short time since.”
The LowellStat program was created in the summer of 2010 by City Manager Lynch and the Lowell City Council to support their efforts to create a more efficient and transparent government. Since that time it has contributed to the realization of over $1 million in savings and increased revenue. Perhaps more importantly, it has continued to infuse city government with data-driven policies and best practices. Results can be seen in the transformation of the city operating budget, the development of the City’s first strategic goals and objectives plan, and monthly performance reports by city departments.