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Offices under Preckwinkle score mixed grades under self-published ‘performance dashboards’

Tuesday, August 04, 2020
The Daily Line
by Alex Nitkin

Cook County officials who oversee technology, finance and workforce development have met or exceeded self-imposed goals but the county’s office of procurement and Justice Advisory Council have fallen short, according to a series of “performance dashboards” published by county board President Toni Preckwinkle on Monday.

The dashboards encompass 30 offices under Preckwinkle’s direction, most of which fall under the county’s Bureau of Finance, Bureau of Human Resources, Bureau of Technology or Bureau of Asset Management. They identify a handful of specific goals for each office, and some include updates on how the office’s performance stacks up to those goals. The dashboards will be updated quarterly, according to Preckwinkle’s office.

The self-published progress reports are an outgrowth of the Cook County Office of Research, Operations and Innovation, which Preckwinkle launched in 2019 to “further empower employees to adopt performance management and a culture of continuous improvement,” according to a press release published Monday.

“We have developed effective policies and programs with measurable outcomes that can now be tracked through these public dashboards,” Preckwinkle wrote in a statement. “The public can now learn even more about what each department in my administration does, and in addition to providing greater transparency, this can also serve as an informative and useful civic educational tool.”

The dashboards showed bright spots in offices like the county’s Workforce Strategy Division, which reported that it took 83 days to fill the average personnel vacancy between December and February, beating the office’s goal of 90 days. During the same period, it reported hiring more than 10 new employees a month and reported a “rising average employee tenure.” The office set a goal of 11-year tenures for each employee, but it did not report how close it was to the goal.

Officials in the county’s Technology Infrastructure Division also reported hitting their goals, with 94 percent of operating systems and 75 percent of hardware used by the county within their “support life cycle.” The Office of the Chief Financial Officer reported a low discrepancy between predicted and actual revenue received in January, exceeding its goal of a 3 percent variance or less — but that was two months before revenues unexpectedly plunged in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Office of the Chief Procurement Officer fell short of meeting its goals on all five metrics listed. Contracts in February were issued more slowly than recommended, fewer vendors submitted bids and more uncompetitive contracts were assigned than the county’s goals spelled out. And employees with the county’s Justice Advisory Council spent less time in February on “legislative initiatives” and “administrative reform initiatives” than performance trackers would have liked.

Other offices, like the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways, published goals without showing whether they achieved them this year. The department aims for 90 percent of capital projects to begin construction on time, for 60 percent of county-operated bridges to be in “good” condition and for half of the 568 miles of highways overseen by the county to be in “fair or good condition.” County transportation officials wrote in their dashboard that the number of county-operated roads in good condition has decreased by 2 percent over the last four years, but they expect the trend to reverse as a result of the state capital budget approved in 2019.

The county’s Department of Environment and Sustainability reported a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from county buildings and operations by 3.75 percent each year so they can become carbon-neutral by 2050.

Dashboards were not published for every office that operate under Preckwinkle’s direction. A report was not made available Monday for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, which falls under the Bureau of Administration.



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