A lot is being said about reinventing government these days. President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore recently visited Sunnyvale, Calif., and applauded the city government for being organized around specific performance objectives. I wish the President and vice president would have visited Redondo Beach, because we began to "reinvent" our government before it became a national buzzword.
In late 1990 we hired a nationally recognized efficiency and management expert as our city manager. Since then City Manager Steve Kirchhoff, with the backing of the City Council, has reorganized and streamlined City Hall operations to the extent that we are now saving the taxpayers more than $4 million annually.
Like Sunnyvale, our delivery system is driven by hundreds of specific goals that must be met. Our managers and supervisors are held accountable for achieving these goals, which are reviewed on a quarterly basis by the city manager. For the past three years we've been doing many of the things that are now being trumpeted as the "reinvention of government," things such as contracting out, eliminating levels of supervision, reducing the work force, cutting unit costs, etc. Frankly, we (the City Council, the city manager and myself) view this as the way local government ought to be run rather than a marvelous new invention.
Because of the initiatives we started years ago, our Police Department has improved its emergency response time by more than 25%; we employ fewer people to maintain the parks; the work of our custodial staff exceeds private sector standards; and we have applied the pruning knife to our management level positions. The elimination of an assistant city manager position, two department heads and many other mid-level supervisory positions, ranging from public works superintendents to public safety managers, has allowed this city to successfully cope with a 25% reduction in annual revenues.
While I applaud the new Administration's efforts to improve government, the fact is, the Redondo Beach city government has been doing much of what is now being proposed under the auspices of "reinventing government" for some time now. If the federal government can reduce its work force 15%, like Redondo Beach has, and cut its overhead costs likewise, then I predict the deficit will fade, and the economy will grow.
Mayor, Redondo Beach