The New York City Independent Budget Office released a report today examining the city's new Capstat program, as well as other efforts to measure the quality of municipal services. Capstat, launched on the Internet last year by former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, seeks to improve the city's accountability to the public. But IBO's report, What About My Street? How the City Can Improve Its Tracking of Service Delivery, finds that Capstat mostly reiterates operational information in the Mayor's Management Report and does not reflect the kind of results that really matter to residents.
"When reported clearly and concisely, information about how well city services are delivered promotes accountability to the public about the spending of their tax dollars," said IBO Director Ronnie Lowenstein. "Sound ways of measuring performance also build trust between the public and municipal government."
Capstat is loosely modeled on the well-regarded Comstat program used by the New York City Police Department. But much of the statistical information in Capstat does not offer the results-focused measurements found in the police model. Borrowing heavily from the Mayor's Management Report, the Capstat data focuses largely on what agencies do on a daily basis-caseloads, response times, enrollments-but contains little information about results. A report issued this week by the New York City Comptroller presented similar criticisms of the Mayor's Management Report.
To transform Capstat into a meaningful way of rating service delivery and improving accountability, IBO recommends that the city:
- identify and report on results that matter to the public and reflect the way the public sees and uses city services;
- centralize contact information for city programs and services; and
- expand New York City's use of electronic government to allow the public to comment-on or rate city services.
The report is available for free on IBO's Web site at www.ibo.nyc.ny.us, or in print by calling 212-442-0632.