HPG: Poor local media coverage

In Wednesday’s News-Sentinel, Drew Stone wrote about the High Performance Government contract that has been controversial amongst City Council members as well as those who follow and take the time to go beyond the local media’s coverage of the issue – or lack thereof.  I don’t think either major newspaper covered the December 2nd portion of the City Council’s look at the contract, nor the revelation of a second contract signed on September 30, 2008.  This has completely baffled me.

I don’t like to do this often, but in this case, I feel a need to take a closer look at Stone’s article.  It’s nothing personal, but let’s get the entire truth out there.

City takes a closer look at $95,000 efficiency program

Those who’ve used the network say it is helpful and well worth the cost.

Fort Wayne’s management-efficiency program is designed to save money, but is it worth the price?

Fort Wayne City Council seemed to have that single question in mind earlier this month when it reviewed, once again, the High Performance Government Network. And no statistical information will be available until sometime in January – but when it is, those involved with the network say the city will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

There was more than one question asked during the December 2nd meeting.  The questions also centered around the State Board of Accounts Audit that cited several problems with the contract.  This audit suggested the Council take another look at the contract and actually approve the contract.  

Stone then goes on to give some history of the project, however, he leaves out the fact that a second contract was signed on September 30, 2008, the day after the filing date of the SBOA report.  Kind of important, don’t you think?

The company, though, has saved the city $30 million, Richard said previously.

Now, I’m not a financial wizard, but it seems to me that if the City had saved $30 million, it would be reflected in the City not needing as much tax dollars from it’s citizens to operate.  Instead, looking at this page from the City’s 2009 budget one can make the following observation: Mayor Graham Richard was in office from 1999 until 2007.  The City took $56,091,816 in 2000, his first budget he had direct control over and ended in 2008 (his last budget) by taking $99,440,267.  Doesn’t look like $30 million saved to me.  To be fair, prices have risen over that time period – look at fuel alone - annexations also figure into it with their associated costs.  So there are valid reasons why the savings aren’t immediately visible.  To date, the $30 million figure has never been quantified.  The City does offer this page about Six Sigma on its website, but that’s Six Sigma, not HPGN.

This next section:

In total, 318 managers have gone through the program. In the beginning, only city employees were enrolled, but in the recent classes, supervisors from Allen County and a few from as far as Chicago have enrolled.

“I wish more people from my division would come to this,” [Allen??] County Small Claims Court Assistant Supervisor Amy Stoner said. “It’s very informative … and I’m sorry it’s ending already.”

So wait a minute!?!  Is the City paying for Allen County employees?  Has Allen County signed up for the HPGN as well?  That would be the first question I would ask if I were putting this story together.  This needs some further exploration.

Stone then explores the savings by talking with City employees and citing their experiences.  He throws out this tidbit:

The network has a staff of 15. Two employees were cut earlier this year. Love-Jacobson attributes the cuts to the “business model changing” from a wide focus across management to a narrower one, allowing for more personal feedback to its clients.

One of those cut was Chris Campbell who the County picked up as it’s new webmaster.  Campbell had worked in the City’s IT department before leaving for the HPGN earlier this year.

City Human Resources Director Alan Candioto said at the Dec. 2 council meeting that, as overseer of the network, he believes it has performed very well in its first 11 months. The network has put in about 50 hours of work a month, assisting city agencies, including the city-county planning department consolidation, as facilitators in purchasing agreements.

The three-year, $285,000 contract ends in 2010. If the network puts in another 50 hours of service in December, it will average about $158.33 per hour of work this year.

He also said the City receives monthly billing statements for the hours, however, they haven’t been released to the public as of yet.  So that will make 600 hours the HPGN has given the City in exchange for $95,000 and yet the budget submitted by Mayor Henry for 2009 remained flat.  The cuts that were eventually made were intentional, not because of any savings from HPGN.  

It will be interesting to see how this develops and when and if the City releases an accounting of the entire project including savings for 2008.


  1. Your blog is getting better all the time. Its great that a person can search and find more info on local things more so than in the past. Before the blogs you might be able to find something on a local newspaper site or on the TV sites but it was usually bland, uninspired, and/or from the same ole point of view. Blogs can be kind of raw but it looks like locally point of views are getting more polished and the sites as well. A different point of view no matter what it’s been the last 2 or 3 years has been refreshing to see.

    Chris Campbell is an excellent graphic artist. He did my original FP logo.


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