I wrote a blog post about the New Customer Information System (NCIS) a little over a year ago. NCIS is a joint Seattle City Light (SCL) and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) project to replace the Consolidated Customer Service System (CCSS) – the old SCL and SPU billing system. The old system supported billing and customer processes for both utilities, but failed to meet current business practices and was no longer supported by the vendor.
The NCIS project, which launched last September, ran $34 million over budget and arrived nearly a year late. At the time I expressed concern that the Council did not receive timely and accurate information about the cost overrun and timeline changes. In response, the Council asked the City Auditor’s Office to review the implementation of NCIS and specifically:
- Why did the project take longer than expected and go over budget?
- Why wasn’t project status communicated to the City Council on a timely basis, and what communication process improvements could be made?
- How effectively did the project use the input of its Quality Assurance expert?
- What were the key decision points for this project, including the dates of the original proposal, and Council approvals?
This last Tuesday, we heard the findings of the Auditor’s report in my committee. You can see the meeting materials here and here, and watch the committee here. The Auditor also partnered with an information technology consulting firm, Gartner, Inc. to write a best practices report which provides an overview of the project life cycle, including initiation, planning, execution, and monitoring and control. You can view that report here.
The City Auditor made five recommendations and consulted with the City’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) on action plans who will:
- Submit monthly IT status reports to Council staff.
- Implement a project “stage gating” process that refines budget estimations over time, and requests budget approval in phases.
- Assign a dedicated finance analyst to large IT projects.
- Give additional consideration to improving the tracking of quality assurance risks.
The Auditor’s report is a step in the right direction, but I continue to have concerns about transparency as well as receiving timely and accurate information especially when it comes to multidepartmental projects such as NCIS. There are further recommendations that I will share with the CTO as it relates to a. the content and dissemination of monthly reports on large projects, b. the facilitation of additional transparency of those reports, c. determination of which large projects get a dedicated financial analyst, and d. better assurances that we are taking step towards development of an Earned Value Management (EVM) approach to forecast project problems. Seattle City Council Insight has a helpful recap of the issue here.
Finally, you might remember that I called for the creation of a special Council committee to oversee City-funded capital projects that exceed initial budgets. Additionally, last Fall Council passed a Resolution establishing a capital project oversight work program for the Budget Committee for 2017. The purpose and goal of this work program is to develop phased appropriation requirements, establish requirements for Council authorization of large capital project grant applications, and improv budgetary controls over capital project contingency usage. We expect a report to the Council this summer, and I will update you when I have more information.
SDOT is kicking off pothole repair starting on Monday, April 17. They’re calling it “Pothole Palooza” and will be concentrating all their crews on pothole repairs. They are planning to fill as many potholes in that week as we can find. Let’s see how District 1 measures up; report neighborhood potholes so SDOT can map them out as their Pothole Rangers move throughout the city.
There are three ways to report potholes:
- Using the Find It, Fix It app on their phones
- Filling out a request form
- Calling our Pothole and Street Repair hotline 206-386-1218
SDOT will collect requests all this week and then go out and fix potholes in each district. I encourage everyone to submit requests.
The court-appointed Federal Monitor overseeing police accountability reform in Seattle released a Use of Force Report. The report states:
“Overall, use of force has gone down even as officer injuries have not gone up and crime, by most measures, has not increased. At the same time, the force that SPD officers do use is, by and large, reasonable, necessary, proportional, and consistent with the Department’s use of force policy… “credit for this major milestone goes first and foremost to the men and women of the Seattle Police Department.”
The Monitor further notes, “The significance and importance of this finding cannot be understated, as this report makes clear. It represents a singular and foundational milestone on SPD’s road to full and effective compliance—and represents Seattle crystallizing into a model of policing for the 21st century.”
You can read the full report here.
This shows that the police accountability process, initiated by Seattle community groups in 2010, and supported by the US Department of Justice in the 2012 Consent Decree, is working, and shows the value of federal involvement.
The Police Chief Catherine O’Toole noted that the rate of officer injury has not increased, crime is down 10% citywide, and “officers in the field are de-escalating volatile situations with regularity and skill, putting in practice the training that has established Seattle as a national leader in policing reform.”
My thanks to officers for their work to change the culture at SPD; the results speak for themselves.
Last week the Landmarks Preservation Board designated the Campbell building as an historic landmark. It’s the home of Cupcake Royale, at 4554 California Avenue SW.
I sent a letter in support of designating the Campbell building, as a follow-up to an earlier letter in support of the nomination, the first step in the process.
I thank the Landmarks Preservation Board for their work, and designation of this building, as well as their earlier designation of the Crescent-Hamm building, home of Easy Street and other businesses.
The Seattle Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Commission has vacancies for which I would welcome interest of community members in filling. If you are interested in applying for the commission, please send your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org and cc: Commissioner Liaison Erika.email@example.com. To learn more about the commission please visit www.seattle.gov/lgbtq and you can also attend their next meeting Thursday, April 20, 2017, at 6:30pm, at City Hall in the Boards and Commissioners Room.
The Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Lifelong Recreation Programs, in partnership with Generations Aging with Pride, will offer a series of LGBTQ Senior Resource Fairs in April and May. The resource fairs are designed to engage, support and empower LGBTQ seniors on their personal aging journey.