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City scorecard shows efficiency, improvement

The City of Boston has garnered positive accomplishments in fire, police and other departments, according to a new website that tracks the performance of city departments in an effort to increase transparency and accountability.

The Boston About Results Performance Management Scorecard results, released on Tuesday, is part of a project using SAP AG municipal government software to track the progress of city departments in meeting specific goals.

“Providing these tools to city officials enables them to continuously evaluate services and ensure we’re all doing our part to improve quality of life in Boston,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said in a press release issued on Tuesday. “I’m proud Boston is leading the way in using innovative technology to better serve our residents.”

Sixteen departments are measured on the website and include fire, neighborhood development, transportation and police.

In one of the city’s goals, the Boston Police Department aimed to forge a closer bond with Bostonians through more walking and bicycle beat controls, said Devin Quirk, the citywide performance manager.

“They set a strategic goal of doubling patrols that they would do out of their cruisers, actually face to face over the past year,” Quirk said. “If you look at their scorecard, you can see they have come very close to that goal.”

Between July and September BPD carried out 46,575 neighborhood beats, coming closer to the goal of 200,000 of beats by the end of the year, according to the BAR website.

“Our approach is comprehensive,” Quirk said. “We track over 2,000 performance measures on a monthly or quarterly basis across all 45 departments.”

Other city accomplishments on the site include 145 avoided foreclosures for homeowners, statistics that 66 percent of all fire department responses were under four minutes and increased efficiency in the Public Works Department.

Quirk said once goals are met, new goals are put forth and departments given more resources are tracked for progress.

“We don’t just look at the dollars we are investing in a particular department, we also look at the results we expect to get from that investment,” Quirk said. “So if we are increasing our investment, we increase the targets.”

This site is replacing outdated performance software and will improve data collection and citizen engagement with the city, according to the press release. SAP AG designed the new site, as well as a mobile application, entitled CitizenInsight, where users can track the performance of public service organizations and share information with others via email.

“Making sure that each department has strategic goals is a significant step in and of itself,” Quirk said. “They can say what they are supposed to be producing, what their target is, and where they are today. Once they know that they can take steps to where they want to be tomorrow.”

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