My current gig is with the City of Brampton. I’m ensconced in the IT department to document system administration procedures. They know what they want to do, they can give me the facts, and they have a preferred format.
The city is currently running very lean, with many people doing two jobs or stretching themselves to cover vacancies on their team. I hope that’s temporary—people burn out if they run flat out every day. But I am very impressed with the city government’s care and attention to delivering services and making the city work. It radiates from everything they do. Everything must be accountable. But it’s not “cover your ass”— it’s “give the citizens their money’s worth.”
One odd side effect is that, on the city’s public web site, it’s easier to find out how the library budget is being spent and costs controlled than it is to find out where the libraries are.
Their goal is to make the city work. Their methods are to create six pillars of community support. I was tremendously impressed when I found the Six Pillars: they seem sensible, practical, and within the scope of a city government to encourage:
- Modern transportation systems
- Managed growth
- Actions that protect our environment and enhance our community
- A dynamic and prosperous economy
- Community lifestyle
- Excellence in local government
There are also social activities, organized by individuals who like that activity, e.g. pick-up hockey. Another obvious feature in city government is a continuous charity effort run by a large committee of volunteers. They conduct a continuous stream of contests to generate money for the United Way fund. The earmark the Friday casual dress donations for different charities. They ran an online auction of donated goods, a string of 50/50 draws, and a series of weekly bingo games—all properly authorized. They set different groups competing to see who can contribute the most. Furthermore, they adopt a few families who are going through hard times and appeal for specific gifts to go directly to the families.
There’s a tremendous sense of caring and responsibility. The mood and ethics of an organization tend to tricle down from the highest levels of management. I don’t know how it got started, but Brampton is on a roll — doing it right.