Broome looking to hire efficiency expert to streamline city government

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome’s administration will ask the Metro Council to approve $300,000 to hire a consulting firm that specializes in teaching governments how to increase efficiency and operate more like the private sector.

Broome’s office is hoping to hire Cincinnati, Ohio-based Management Partners under a professional services contract. The firm has already begun meeting with department heads at City Hall to understand the processes in place in East Baton Rouge Parish government and identify ways to streamline it, make it more responsive to citizens and save money.

A handful of leaders in the business community have been pushing the idea since Broome was elected.

They introduced the firm’s CEO, Jerry Newfarmer, and government efficiency expert Ted Gaebler, to leaders in the Broome administration at a meeting in Baton Rouge earlier this year, according to Chief Administrative Officer Darryl Gissel, who has been working on the initiative for months.

Newfarmer served as city manager of Cincinnati and San Jose, California before forming Management Partners. Gaebler, also a former city manager, is the author of the best-selling book, Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector.

Gissel, who came from the private sector to help run Broome’s administration, says it’s critical that Baton Rouge cut down on bureaucracy and waste, not only to save money but to provide better service to taxpayers. Management Partners will identify specific ways to do that and, more importantly, show city department heads how to implement those recommended changes.

“This is not a study that will sit on a shelf,” Gissel says. “These are seasoned city managers, who will go through the entire implementation phase with us.”

The $300,000 needed to hire the firm would come from a supplemental appropriation to the 2018 budget, which was approved last December. The city typically finds surplus funds mid-year, once property taxes have started to roll in, to cover things not originally budgeted.

Gissel says appropriating $300,000 from the city’s $319 million discretionary general fund budget is money well spent, especially considering the budget for 2019 will be a “standstill budget,” as was this year’s budget.

“Revenue is tight so we either go back and ask the taxpayers for additional revenue or we go figure out how to be more efficient,” Gissel says. “This is what all businesses do. It’s the prudent way to run a business and city government.”

The administration has met with all members of the Metro Council to brief them on the plan. The council is scheduled to vote on the appropriation during its regularly scheduled meeting July 27.

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