For what I’m certain are the best interests of our organization, our esteemed news editor Andrew Donohue sent me this message along with the 379 words he chopped from my story on business process reengineering today: “You’ve been BPR’d.”

BPR is the mayor’s famed streamlining strategy. Here is the excess that was trimmed:

A Racecar Driver’s Credo
[Independent Budget Analyst] Tevlin applauded BPR as a necessary step in providing better services at cheaper costs for the city’s taxpayers. But she said the council needs to be provided more clues about why certain decisions are made.

For example, in January council members postponed their decision to endorse a BPR for the Environmental Services Department until they were provided more information about suggestions to centralize some administrative functions, consolidate several divisions within the agency, and reduce its staff by 34 full-time positions.

The department’s follow-up report laid out its current service output and the goals it aspired to reach through BPR. Council members, however, wanted a greater say over approving cuts to the department, and the mayor lashed out at them, arguing that they were obstructing his efforts to reform the city budget.

[Mayor Jerry] Sanders has tried to quickly implement the BPRs, saying the city has to move quickly on the departments in order to start gaining ground financially so that it can continue funding services and paying down its long-term debts. The issue remains unresolved after the City Attorney’s Office raised legal objections over legislation that sought to create a rule over the amount Sanders could cut from the budget mid-year without the council’s approval.

The need for speed is perhaps illustrated best at the conclusion of the PowerPoint presentation [Assistant Chief Operating Officer Rick] Reynolds gives to each department before they undergo BPR. In the closing slide, Reynolds borrows a quote from racecar driver Mario Andretti: “If you feel like everything is under control, you’re not going fast enough.”

That philosophy worries City Hall watchers who say the systems being proposed through BPR will break down if they’re not properly studied.

“We are responsible for public welfare, so we can’t be out of control,” said Damian Tryon, a representative for the city’s blue-collar union.

[Chief Operating Officer Ronne] Froman said the city’s financial situation creates the need for more rapid reorganization, a reality that she recognizes as having changed the city’s philosophy towards BPR. She used her former employer as comparison, saying the amount of the review accomplished by the city in about six months would have taken about 18 months in the Navy.

The streamlining process is designed to maximize the amount of output a taxpayer can get for his or her dollar, she said.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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