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Plan for city developed using performance audit

April 16, 2008
By Sam Shawver,
A $32,000 performance audit of city services, released by the Ohio Auditor’s Office in October, won’t be collecting dust on a shelf, according to Marietta Mayor Michael Mullen, who’s rolling out a plan to use the audit recommendations to improve municipal government.

The plan, which Mullen has dubbed the City of Marietta Performance Initiative, or COMPI, is aimed at providing better government using the performance audit as a guideline.

Mullen said the performance initiative is designed to obtain greater efficiency from city departments.

“We see this as a real opportunity to look at data from every department and to use that data in combination with recommendations from the audit to get the best performance possible from each department,” he said. “And we want to include all aspects of city government.”

Members of City Council have not yet reviewed the plan.

“I haven’t seen the plan, but we are definitely going to make use of the performance audit, which is a compass to help us move in the right direction,” said Councilman Andy Thompson, R-at large, chairman of the council finance committee.

“We can always do things better, but we need to be able to measure our performance, and if you don’t set goals and objectives you can’t take that measurement,” he said.

Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said some recommendations from the audit could already have been put into practice.

“We’ve had the performance audit for several months,” he said. “And what have we done with the financial forecast that was part of the audit? We spent $18,000 to $22,000 of that $32,000 on financial forecasting. What are we doing with that?”

Mullen developed the plan with new city safety-service director Chad Presley.

The mayor said the next step will be to assemble a group comprised of department heads, council members, the administration and members of the private sector “to look at various aspects of the performance audit recommendations, then divide those up into areas of specialization.”

He said the city auditor, treasurer and assistant safety-service director could consider issues related to city finances, while the safety-service director might concentrate on performance data measurement in each department.

“Right now we’re collecting information from the departments, including mission statements and what jobs they perform,” Mullen said. “We hope to have that data back within a month.”

He noted that similar plans have resulted in efficiencies for much larger cities.

“The city of Baltimore, for example, developed a pothole reporting system for its citizens that allows repairs to be done within 48 hours, and the system works with a 97 percent efficiency rating,” Mullen said.

“If this can work for larger cities, it can work here,” he said.

Fact Box

The COMPI is based on 10 recommendations from the performance audit:
¯ Develop a formal strategic plan.
¯ Develop a citywide capital planning process.
¯ Develop a performance measurement program.
¯ Develop formal procedures to guide the budgeting process.
¯ Develop and review a five-year financial forecast.
¯ Create job descriptions.
¯ Require non-bargaining employees to annually sign forms acknowledging they have read and understand the contents of their employee handbook.
¯ Provide regular and relevant training for staff.
¯ Develop formal procedures for the negotiating process that include assignment of key tasks to appropriate city officials.
¯ Control compensation increases based on city financial conditions.



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