First Comes Trust, Then Comes Data! Building Real Collaboration & Using Data to Improve the City

by the City of Colorado Springs, CO for the TLG 2019 Innovation Showcase program

Dec 19, 2018

Theme: Extensive Internal Collaboration

It may not be the sexiest innovation, but the Citywide Facilities Committee is a game-changer for the City of Colorado Springs.

Before this innovation, City departments were responsible for determining and requesting funds for City facilities projects through the budget process. Departments with the most staff and time requested and received the most funds for facilities projects, and the most underfunded departments who needed the funds the most, received $0. We had no data or process to tell us if the funded facilities projects were improving our ~200 deteriorating facilities.

We needed to make a change. So we started a committee and what we accomplished together drastically improved our facilities. First, we built trust between department representatives on the committee and between them and us through a systematic and transparent process. Every decision was made by the committee and visible online, and we took our time to ensure everyone was heard. More on this later.

We built a process, establishing a standard assessment form to assess facilities conditions. After departments completed assessments, we analyzed the data and identified 30 high-priority projects, just based on data. The committee met, we discussed the data and the context around it. “Tell us more about the poor lighting” I’d say, and then we’d hear “The lighting over the pool is held up by masking tape”. Another department then chimed in “I can delay my project one year to fix that first”. As we went through our list, this just kept happening.

To this day, we prioritize annually and fund the greatest needs first. In government, we often ask our departments to think about the City as a whole, not just their department and this committee actually does it every year. Thanks to them, we are closer to our 70% average facility condition rating goal! 

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