What is Prince George's CountyStat?
Prince George's CountyStat is a program launched by County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III to deliver results through analysis, accountability, and innovation. Focusing on specific topics, CountyStat ensures county government is making measurable progress on the issues that matter most.
Where is CountyStat on the organizational chart?
CountyStat is part of the County Executive’s Office. The CountyStat Manager reports to the Chief Administrative Officer. The CountyStat Team is comprised of staff from the County Executive’s Office and the Office of Management and Budget, and work closely with Deputy Chief Administrative Officers (DCAOs), who are charged with overseeing government agencies.
Is this all about statistics and number crunching?
Data analysis is an important part of what CountyStat does, but it’s not the only thing. CountyStat also performs a research and development function, identifying and implementing best practices to improve government operations and policies. To do this, CountyStat engages think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and other jurisdictions from around the country to generate the best ideas possible. If another county, city, or town is doing something innovative, CountyStat wants to learn about it and find out if it will work here.
In addition to providing data and policy research, CountyStat also is an important governing forum by bringing the Executive and his top managers together with agency heads to address issues. So, although CountyStat analysts crunch numbers, it is only one part of the team’s primary job, which is to solve problems and deliver results.
Aren't there other programs like this around?
The Prince George’s County model is an adaptation of "stat" programs from other jurisdictions, including New York City, the State of Washington, and Governor Martin O’Malley’s pioneering work in Baltimore City and the State of Maryland. CountyStat also collaborates with similar programs in Montgomery County, MD and the District of Columbia. Some of the key elements to the CountyStat approach are the following:
- Thematic issue orientation – convening various agencies around a single issue, aligning resources, executing a common response, and measuring results -as opposed to an administrative approach focused on reviewing individual departments;
- Transparency – making CountyStat materials available to the public and inviting feedback; and
- Best practice promotion – presenting and promoting the most innovative ideas on a given issue, in addition to the data analysis
What are CountyStat’s issue priorities?
CountyStat focuses on the County Executive’s priority issue areas: a thriving economy, excellent education system, safe neighborhoods, quality healthcare, effective human services, clean and sustainable environment, and high performance government operations. Notably, education is a high priority, but will be incorporated into CountyStat in time (note: Prince George’s County Public Schools are a separate entity that operates under the oversight of the Board of Education and Superintendent, not the County Executive).
How does the CountyStat process work?
- Issues are selected based on the County Executive’s priorities and any urgent matters requiring attention
- The CountyStat team examines existing data submitted by agencies on regular basis, and obtains additional data and other information from relevant agencies and other sources.
- The CountyStat team analyzes this data, relevant operations and policies, the experience of sister jurisdictions, and best practices.
- Based on this research, the team prepares a report in slideshow format providing an overview of the issue, as well as findings and recommendations.
- The information is presented to the leadership and the agencies in a CountyStat work session, which kicks off a discussion of how improvement can be made to achieve better results.
- The agencies receive a follow-up memo outlining next steps for implementation and any requests for more information.
- CountyStat reviews the agencies’ response, and tracks and evaluates implementation of action items, and the cycle begins again.
Can CountyStat really make a difference?
The residents of Prince George's County pay for and deserve excellent service from their government. However, for various reasons governments can be slow to adapt to change and can become inefficient and unresponsive to constituent needs. That's where CountyStat can help.
Effective government requires strong "feedback loops" where performance data is shared, examined and used to hold everyone accountable for it in an open and honest process. Organizations that have robust feedback loops (among managers, staff, and customers alike) achieve optimal results because weaknesses are quickly identified and addressed. But if information is not received quickly, is not accurate, or is not acted on promptly or properly, problems can fester, costing time, money, and safety. If unaddressed in the long run, these problems will impact other areas of government in a multiplier effect of inefficiency.
CountyStat generates strong feedback loops through constant investigation, analysis and our interactive sessions. By posting information on the internet and inviting public input, CountyStat creates another feedback loop for the government with the public.
Is CountyStat worried about finding something embarrassing?
No, finding problems is a good thing - that's the only way to fix them. CountyStat has already discovered and addressed many shortcomings, which demonstrates why this program is essential to the health of our government. By being open and transparent with findings, CountyStat sessions generate a sense of urgency towards fixing them. The process also uncovers lots of good things that the county is doing, and that is worth sharing too.
Is CountyStat confrontational to county government departments and employees?
No, the Prince George’s County model is based on a collaborative approach - the Baker Administration is more interested in fixing problems than fixing blames. However, CountyStat does not shy away from asking tough questions, pointing out problems, or holding agencies accountable for their performance. In CountyStat sessions, agencies engage in a discussion on improving services with the CountyStat Executive’s Senior Management Team, which consists of the County Executive, Chief Administrative Officer, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, the CountyStat Manager and senior staff from the Office of Management and Budget.
How can the public be involved?
CountyStat posts its presentations, follow-up memos, agency responses and other information online for public information and input. Likewise, sessions are open to the public to observe in-person. There are some exceptions limiting public access, reserved for sensitive discussions about specific public safety or personnel matters. Although the public may attend most sessions, visitors are not permitted to speak during sessions as CountyStat is not a public hearing but an opportunity for the public to witness its government in action. There are opportunities to provide feedback to the program or agencies on specific topics outside of the session, and this is highly encouraged. Individuals and organizations are also welcome to use CountyStat information for education or advocacy. The public is a vital element of the CountyStat program, so suggestions, ideas and feedback are welcomed.