Reviews in the news

I was pleased to see the media recently cover our service and operational review process and in one case note that it is a welcome departure from the approach currently underway in Toronto.  The coverage has led to some correspondence which makes it clear to me we need to be very clear what we mean by service and operational reviews – around the Council horseshoe, at City Hall and in the community.

I have posted on service and operational reviews in the past.  I won’t cover old ground but provide some additional information about them and who is responsible for what.

Decisions on service reviews lie with City Council.  A service review considers whether the City should continue to deliver a service (e.g. curbside waste collection) and, if the answer is yes, at what level of service (e.g. every day, once a week, or twice a month).  As noted recently by our Chief Administrative Officer, two recent service reviews (sidewalk snow plowing and the Bookmobile) did not lead to Council supporting the elimination of the service nor a reduction in the level of service.

If members of Council start pointing fingers at management regarding the outcome of service reviews then they need to know there are three fingers pointing right back at them.

Eliminating a service or reducing a level of service is not easy to do because there is always someone who is impacted.  However, Council is committed to developing a process to systematically review all of our services.  There can be no “sacred cows” nor should there be any “sacrificial lambs”.  We need rigorous analysis and effective public consultation not ideology and ego.

On the other hand, an operational review considers the efficiency and effectiveness of the delivery of a service and that is firmly a management responsibility.

For example, in 2010 Fleet Services undertook a review of their business practices to identify process improvements and find ways to reduce expenses. Over the last five years the cost of vehicle and equipment replacement/repair parts has risen in excess of 10%. The 2011 fleet budget for parts is close to $1,000,000. As well, because of the diversity of our fleet, the City must carry a large inventory of in stock parts to ensure that we can repair our fleet assets in a timely fashion.

Through benching marking of other municipalities, Fleet Services became aware of a parts purchasing business model which is gaining momentum through Canada and the United Sates. This model allows for one supplier to supply all parts to the fleet stores on a consignment basis. Based on a current list of City owned vehicles & equipment, the supplier is required to inventory the parts needed to service our fleet at our location. The City is only invoiced for parts when they are distributed to the repair shop for installation. The supplier is also responsible for sourcing all special order parts as needed.

Fleet Services, in cooperation with Purchasing and Risk Management, prepared and released an RFP for a Consignment Parts Inventory Contract in late 2010. In April 2011 the contract was awarded to NAPA Auto Parts.

Fleet Services anticipates the annual purchases associated with the award of this contract to be approximately $1,000,000 of operating funding per year. Because the inventory for the two store operations will now be held by the supplier on a consignment basis, this initiative will result in the eventual elimination of approximately $650,000 of inventory parts current held by Fleet Services stores. Based on the comparison parts pricing provided in the RFP, they anticipate a savings of 8-10% on overall parts purchasing.

This commitment to continuous improvement is ongoing.  However, our new service and operational review process will do a better job of reporting the outcomes of this work.  In doing so we will also be responding to calls for greater transparency of municipal government practices.


About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

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