In a recent policy study from the Reason Foundation, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett talks about tackling the city’s challenges and how it requires a willingness to embrace innovation, competition and market ideas.
Upon taking office a year into a national recession, Bartlett was faced with reductions by the previous mayor in discontinued public safety academies, turned off highway lights, grounded police helicopters, and suspension of the removal of graffiti and the mowing of public property. Even with city employees being furloughed eight days and the previous administration having spent 80% of the city’s reserve fund after just five months of the fiscal year, more and bigger pain was on the immediate horizon. Defaulting on obligations was more real than at any time in Tulsa’s history.
Bartlett quickly discerned that the city government had not prepared for times such as these. City government had grown too big, it cost too much, it was doing too much, and it had made commitments and promises to our government employee unions that could not be kept. With unemployment hovering around 8% and having run on a “no new taxes” platform, he knew the only solution was to reduce the cost and size of government as quickly as possible and develop a long-term strategic plan.
As a part of a comprehensive strategic operational plan, Bartlett included a relatively under-utilized tool in the public sector but a tactic often employed in the private sector to great success: ‘measuring customer satisfaction’:
“In order for Tulsa’s government to perform as the citizens expected within our limited resources, Tulsa must have a comprehensive strategic operational plan developed around six key characteristics of a successful public organization”:
1. Focus on the core functions
2. Measure customer satisfaction
3. Know the cost of government
4. Budget for performance and measure performance
5. Embrace competition
6. Restructure for success
Bartlett went on to note the work of SoonerPoll.com and our parent company, ShapardResearch:
“Before I turned the MRO loose on tackling the recommendations and opportunities, it was important to hear from the citizens of Tulsa on what they thought of the KPMG report, the recommendations suggested and the priorities to be addressed. For the first time in Tulsa’s history the city commissioned a comprehensive citizen’s survey, conducted by one of Oklahoma’s premier survey/polling businesses. We asked over 100 questions of over 1,800 households in every city council district. The demographic, marital status, race and age of those surveyed were remarkably balanced in each district. In response to the survey more than 65% of the respondents supported the efficiency initiatives recommended.”
We are humbled by Mayor Bartlett’s kind words about our work and contributions to his strategic plan, and commend him on his insight and courage to implement market research tools to help address public sector problems.
To find out more about how SoonerPoll.com and ShapardResearch can help you and your city achieve the type of success that Tulsa is experiencing, please feel free in calling us at (405) 607-4664.
The full text of the article is available by clicking here.