(Photo by Flickr user Philadelphia City Council, used under a Creative Commons license)
If you want a comprehensive understanding of what your city wants from you as a new mayor, you corral a legion of cross-sector leaders, shepherd them into a room for three months and ask them to work together to compile a list of recommendations for your new administration to take into consideration.
That’s the approach Mayor Jim Kenney decided to embrace before he took office last month. Kenney assembled his approximately 170-member transition team in November and tasked them with developing a list of recommendations for improving city services. Ideas were also submitted by the public in five town halls across the city and through the mayor’s website.
The result is a mini-tome teeming with 139 specific suggestions for making city government more efficient and accessible. The recommendations were developed with five key “pillars” in mind: education, economic opportunity, public safety, effective government service and a diverse workforce.
“Philadelphia is increasingly being recognized for its work in the tech sector,” the report states. “Just recently, Kenney joined the Tomorrow Tour, which documents how tech and entrepreneur networks are shaping cities of the future.”
The massive transition team broke out into 10 committees in accordance with the administration’s priorities, including administrative services, economic development, community and culture, infrastructure and transportation. The recommendations were then given a deadline — to be implemented either by July 1 or by the end of the year.
There are some really ambitious suggestions in there, which makes this super fun.
Here are 10 key takeaways from the report as they pertain to tech dweebs (If you want key takeaways for the social impact community, head over to our sister-site Generocity).
- 311 should be better. The city’s 311 service needs to be refined, and a new service mission and best practices should be implemented. Come 2017, 311’s technology should be assessed. Also, PhillyStat should get a makeover.
- Open data should be more focused. There should be stronger membership and clearer roles within the Open Data Advisory Board. One goal is to identify “key staff” to spearhead the implementation of open data policy across all departments. The transition team also asked for an open data improvement plan to be implemented in each department by next year.
- Fix procurement. According to the report, Philadelphia is “a $7.5 billion-dollar enterprise that consumes more than $1 billion dollars in goods and services each year.” That being said, here’s the ask: Update the procurement process and implement a green procurement policy for city purchases. It’s been a long time coming. And here’s the stretch: the goal is to establish an eProcurement process and reverse auctioning (where vendors bid until they hit the lowest price) by 2017. Wouldn’t it be nice?
- Foster small business growth. But start with what the Commerce Department already has in place, then develop a set of metrics to track impact. Two more immediate goals of interest are more city support for the manufacturing industry and the formation of a Small Business Advisory Committee.
- Stimulate inclusion… Only 32 percent of contracts in 2015 were awarded to minority, women or disabled owned businesses, according to the report. One recommendation is to increase the number of businesses owned by minorities and women by 50 percent, and to increase the amount they make on city contracts by $48 million before FY2019. That’s a lotta dough. The report also calls for the creation of a database that will track “cultural programming and access to recreational activities” across the city.
- …With data. It’s the only way to be efficient on a large scale. The report recommends Kenney move to create a centralized database for every community organization and nonprofit across the city that serves the immigrant population. It also suggests the administration collect data from each department assessing language access and cultural competency levels.
- We still want to be the greenest city. Recommendations included possibly replacing street lights with LEDs, creating more jobs in energy efficiency, and sitting all those renewable energy execs down to chat about how to make their products affordable.
- Education needs data and dollars. Education goals focused on implementing community schools throughout the city, funded with the assistance of nonprofits and businesses. There was also mention of developing an “integrated data system” to aide the schools.
- A unified front in health. The gist of this is, there needs to be uniformity in public health policy across departments, and those departments should begin sharing resources. The report calls for Kenney to use his executive power to institutionalize a “Health in All Policies” framework that takes factors like poverty, transportation access, housing quality and education into consideration. The report also calls for the expansion of data sharing agreements between city departments.
- More land in the Land Bank. One recommendation for the administration includes improving coordination between city agencies and City Council over public land. And of course, a strategic plan to consistently transfer more properties into the newly established Philadelphia Land Bank.
There you have it, Mr. Mayor. The people have spoken.
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