Commentary by DEWEY F. BARTLETT JR.
Mayor of Tulsa
The internal organizational culture at the City of Tulsa isn’t the same since the consulting firm, , first published 1,100 recommendations for cost savings and efficiencies back in 2010.
It’s six years later, and while the recommendations have yet to be fully implemented, the report did help kick-start a cultural movement toward efficiency across our entire organization.
Last year, I took the initiative to a new level and created the Office for Maximizing and Advancing Performance () with the purpose to vet and implement opportunities for savings. Our Office Project Managers Robyn Undieme and Penny Macias discovered when working with departments, that there were many more areas for efficiencies and cost savings not identified in the report. Through a combination of and department-led initiatives, projects during the past six years have resulted in approximately $21 million in savings and quite possibly more.
While achieving those significant savings has been a much-needed success for the city, the question still loomed as to how to make these efforts a long-term cultural shift throughout our organization. The Office decided that the best way to accomplish this shift in our culture would be to offer training to employees at all levels of the organization. A Lean/Six Sigma training was tailored to address public-sector issues and was made available to City of Tulsa employees. In little more than a year, nearly 200 employees had voluntarily gone through the Lean/Six Sigma training with a number of efficiency projects ongoing as a result of the training program.
Many benefits have been derived from the report beyond financial savings. Thanks in large part to the report, the city now has a system in place to ask questions like, “Why do we do it this way?” “Is this process working and meeting our customers’ needs?” Or, “Are we doing this the most efficient way?” Even better, these questions are being asked by the people performing those processes and jobs, instead of being driven from the top down.
As for the recommendations, it was determined that the 1,100 considerations made by could be consolidated into 553 recommendations. Of the 553 recommendations, 96 projects have been completed; 56 projects were deferred; 179 projects are pending additional research or are in process; and 222 recommendations have been closed. The bottom line is we’re still working hard to improve our service to the citizens of Tulsa.