System to boost efficiency planned

Computerized approach to be based on Baltimore's CitiStat, city officials say


October 15, 2003|By Jason Song | Jason Song,SUN STAFF

Annapolis officials announced yesterday that they soon will begin using a computer program intended to speed up inspections and make government more efficient.

The program, called Excell, will be based on a similar one used in Baltimore and will keep track of reports on everything from trash to crime and calls for service. City officials can use the data to note trends and trouble spots and make sure that city workers aren't piling up too much overtime.

The program should cut down on paperwork and give city employees more time to do "things we want to do," said Bob Agee, the city's administrator, at a news conference yesterday.

Excell is partially based on Baltimore's CitiStat program, which was implemented nearly three years ago. Baltimore officials credit it with cutting down on millions of dollars of overtime costs a year. The program has been widely copied throughout the nation by other cities.

Annapolis inspectors will get hand-held devices that will allow them to file reports from the field that can be directly fed into Excell. The program should not cost the city any money to run and could save it money by cutting down on overtime costs and increasing productivity, city officials said.

Agee gave the example of a man who called the city three times, complaining that city workers had left holes in his yard. Workers returned to fill the holes three times before someone took a closer look at the records and realized that the city had not done work near the man's yard in the past several years.

"That meant there must have been other problems" causing the holes, Agee said.

When workers returned for a fourth time, they discovered a broken water line under the man's property. With Excell, city workers would have been able to cross-reference complaints, would have discovered that they hadn't done any work near the man's house and probably would have discovered the broken water line earlier, Agee said.

"Things like that shouldn't happen with the new system," Agee said.

Within a month, officials will meet on how to implement the system. In a few months, officials hope to test it with city employees, probably from the planning and zoning department.

Once the system has been fully instituted, city officials will meet once a month to go over statistics and will hold meetings on specific subjects once a week.

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