CINCINNATI -- The city’s $26 million budget deficit might have been even worse had it not been for the cost-saving work of the 2-year-old Office of Performance and Data Analytics (OPDA).
By carefully analyzing data, city officials say they saved taxpayers about $3.3 million last year through cutting costs and avoiding expenditures.
Chief Performance Officer Leigh Tami said the majority of those savings, $2.99 million, fall within the city's general operating fund experiencing that deficit. That's the part of Cincinnati's total $1.1 billion budget that pays for all sorts of services, such as police officers, firefighters, trash collection, snow plowing and more.
Tami wrote in a report released Tuesday that the office used data to identify which outstanding claims and bills were more likely to be collected, recouping more than a half-million dollars. More closely monitoring firefighter overtime reduced costs by nearly $1 million, while absorbing a traffic stop early warning system in-house avoided $350,000 in police costs.
OPDA saved another $1.36 million through in-house data management and IT services rather than relying on specialized consultants or outside data-management systems.
Tami said her office made additional “soft” savings through improved oversight and monitoring, but they couldn't assign a particular dollar amount since those enhancements are difficult to track with precision.
“The city’s suite of performance management programs is allowing us to work smarter, faster and with greater customer responsiveness. They allow us to accomplish more with what we have through innovation, hard work and the utilization of data and technology,” City Manager Harry Black wrote in a memo to the mayor and city council. “These improvements are built to be sustainable and foster an environment conducive to exponential innovation.”
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Besides saving dollars and cents, the report claims OPDA programs have enhanced the city’s customer service and community engagement.
The report states the city’s CincyInsights data portal has seen 58,000 hits since its launch on Dec. 7, 2016, a 10 percent increase in customer satisfaction since October 2015 and a reduction of more than half in the amount of time the city takes to review permit applications.
Mayor John Cranley said OPDA’s work has ushered in a new level of city transparency with the public.
“Having data at our fingertips enables us to leverage technology to enhance city services and increase overall efficiency to better serve constituents. This department is truly cutting-edge,” Cranley said in a news release.
OPDA said it has racked up a total impact of $6.1 million in cost savings since its founding in 2015. The office pledged in the memo to use data in innovative ways “to increase the scope, volume, quality and utility of city data to make Cincinnati even smarter" as it moves into its third year.
Tami and her staff will present this information before the city council’s rules and audit committee meeting on May 16.
Check out Black's memo and the full OPDA report in the box below.