Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


Adams 2021: Government - A More Efficient City

In crisis, the City always deals with the immediate problem and never the cause. Structural changes and smart management are necessary to create efficiency and reduce inequality across the board. In brief, I will do that by:

  • Closing the budget gap without affecting public services.
  • Instituting real-time governing.
  • Finding and eliminating the waste.

We must build a single data platform for the entire City government.

Believe it or not, nearly all City agencies are siloed, operating separately from one another without sharing data or metrics, often duplicating efforts and resulting in waste, inefficiency and poor delivery of services. By combining all agency metrics onto a single platform similar to CompStat and using analytics to track performance in real time, we can go from a reactive management approach to being proactive and, eventually, predictive. This will improve performance and save billions of dollars while delivering far better services.

We will be able to give New Yorkers a real-time score for government performance.

Having one data platform for all City operations will allow us to create a continually updated public score for each agency going far beyond the often-self-congratulatory Mayor’s Management Report. That will show us where we are based relative to our goals for the year. Boston already does this with its well-regarded CityScore program.

We will launch MyCity, a single portal for all City services and benefits.

All New Yorkers are entitled to receive the full support of their government. MyCity will allow users to type just one number into a secure app or website to instantly received every service and benefit they qualify for — such as SNAP — without an abundance of paperwork. This constantly updated information will help New Yorkers protect themselves and their families. More than 1.5 million New Yorkers live in households that cannot afford enough quality food. Although there are 1,100 soup kitchens and food pantries across the five boroughs, poor communications hurts effort to connect needy households to food resources.

My administration will mandate efficiency.

Vastly improved efficiency doesn’t happen by itself. We will institute a standing Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG), which will reduce agency spending at least 3-5%. We will apply an efficiency mandate that eliminates ineffective programs and unnecessary spending, while using an inequality impact test to protect programs vital to lower-income New Yorkers.

We will save $1.5B and avoid layoffs by simply not hiring anyone new for two years.

We can significantly reduce labor costs by $1.5 billion through attrition by not replacing retiring or resigning essential City workers and working with the State to offer early retirements to others over the next two years. This will also allow us to significantly cut costs while retaining the workers we need to deliver vital City services.

We will make City agencies work together.

The root of our City’s inefficiency is in its agencies, which work in parallel, instead of in concert — and often in direct conflict with each other. By mandating inter-agency coordination and designating existing senior staff to a citywide council that meets regularly to align goals, we will institutionalize coordination to reduce inefficiency and inequality.

That council will be tasked with three specific mandates:

  • Define the mission of each agency.
  • Ensure the missions of the agencies meet the overall mission of the City government as defined by city leadership.
  • Evaluate agencies to ensure no agency’s actions conflict with another agency.

My administration will appoint an Efficiency Czar

Efficiency mandates mean nothing without oversight and a leader dedicated to ensuring success. The Efficiency Czar will oversee the standing Program to Eliminate the Gap and conduct quarterly agency and department audits to continuously uncover inefficiency in City government and make suggestions for changes. The Czar will also oversee the evaluation of large City contracts — particularly related to recurring expenses such as utility bills — and partner with companies that are incentivized to find cost savings.

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