How many potholes do Tampa city workers fill per month? How many miles of drainage ditches do they clean?
As a candidate for mayor in 2011, Bob Buckhorn promised to make sure Tampa residents could find answers to those questions and more.
Specifically, Buckhorn vowed to "establish accountability standards for each of the city's departments and their functions, from filling potholes to clearing storm water ditches."
"The city will know what the city's pressing problems are and how long it should take to fix them," Buckhorn's campaign website said. "The mayor and city employees will stand accountable to city residents if the timetables established for resolving these issues are not complied with. As a first step in this process, Bob Buckhorn will complete a full city-wide infrastructure assessment to identify our neighborhoods' needs and begin to address them."
On June 30, 2015, Buckhorn's administration unveiled a web site — tampagov.net/metrics — to answer those kinds of questions.
"In order for us to do our jobs better, metrics matter," Buckhorn said in a telephone interview. "What gets measured gets done."
The site provides performance measures for city services in seven areas: fire rescue, police, planning and development, water, waste water, storm water and transportation. For some services, the metrics include the city's goals, and show whether the delivery meets or falls short of the goals.
Buckhorn said the online metrics should provide more transparency in government.
"I want people to hold us accountable, and I want them to be able to measure our performance," he said.
Some city services are not included: solid waste, recycling, parks and recreation, and what the city calls neighborhood enhancement — code enforcement, efforts to maintain vacant lots and medians, plus work to reduce litter, graffiti and illegal dumping.
"Those are some critical areas that I would definitely would like to see a report on," City Council chairman Frank Reddick said. Most of the calls his council office gets, he said, are about solid waste and code enforcement. "I'm glad (Buckhorn is) trying to be transparent, but I think he needs to include other areas that have been left off."
Buckhorn said he plans to build on the initial version of the site and that more information could be added in the future. Recommended to be included in the second phase are solid waste, code enforcement and the city's fleet, Buckhorn said.
"It's a work in progress," Buckhorn said. "This was our first shot at it out of the box."
Buckhorn said the city has not done the citywide infrastructure assessment that he talked about as a candidate, but departments such as transportation, water and storm water already have amassed that kind of information and use it to guide their plans and operations.
"I haven't wrapped it up and put a big bow on it, but a lot of our departments are doing that now," he said.
When he ran for mayor in 2011, Buckhorn promised to create accountability standards so residents could track whether city departments were addressing problems confronting Tampa and could hold city officials accountable if they weren't. As a first step,he said he would launch a citywide infrastructure assessment to determine priorities to be addressed by each city department. Buckhorn's program differs from the original promise in a couple of ways. He did not do the citywide assessment he promised, and it does not — at least in its initial form — encompass every city department. Because of these differences, we rate this a Compromise.