On my first day in office last December we received the sales tax report indicating our slide into the national recession was continuing and would likely continue for several months into the future. I knew then that two things had to occur: We needed swift action to put into place short term cost cutting measures to balance our budget and we needed to have a long term plan to reform how we would deliver services into the future. To that point, unlike the private sector, we did not have a strategic plan in place.
Within 72 hours of that first day we had executives from KPMG in the Mayor's office to discuss what we needed to do and how quickly could they help us. From that meeting an engagement agreement was developed that would cover 16-19 weeks of intensive on site analysis of the entire city operations, something that had not been done since we changed our form of government over 20 years ago.
With this proposal I approached our good civic-minded friends at the Tulsa Community Foundation asking for their support in finding funding for this one of a kind opportunity. As they have done so often in the past, the foundation took the lead in securing the funding. No taxpayer funds were needed.
With the creation of a Steering Committee of private sector leaders to oversee the project, the next four months produced the most transparent and revealing document on city government in our history. We needed a plan and now we have one. A fresh one developed by efficiency experts with a proven track record. In the end, the message of their findings is simple -- Get Back To The Basics: the three "R's": Restore our core services, Redefine our purposes, and Redirect the direction of government.
As expected, the report contains recommendations for significant cost savings, efficiency opportunities, and new ways to deliver government services. The task at hand now is to begin to plan the implementation strategy. This will start with establishing a new and critically important new office: the Office of Management Review.
To lead the staffing effort of this new office, I have asked City Auditor Preston Dorflinger to provide the oversight responsibilities. Along with the oversight provided by the Steering Committee, a task force of city employees will be involved from the beginning to better inform the employees on the implementation of the recommendations and to seek out their advice and guidance as we move forward.
The City Council will also be very involved in laying the foundation for these new initiatives. The implementation of the recommendations will take many months and once in place, should transcend Mayors and City Councils into the future. To ensure that, the City Council will be asked to consider a number of ordinances that will make this initiative a solidified public policy.
City government could be compared to a large and heavy ocean liner. It's slow moving and not easily or quickly able to change direction. It has operated for years with dated management styles, processes, and methods. To turn this ship we first need a new "wheelhouse" where the strategic initiatives and new governing maps will be created. That's the purpose of the Office of Management Review. Once this is in place, we are then ready to take the journey to a more cost efficient, customer oriented, and high performance government.
A city as exceptional as Tulsa deserves nothing less.
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