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Government can be efficient, too Jim Sandoval | Fri, Jun 14 2013 11:00 AM

The City of Chula Vista has turned to a proven private sector strategy to streamline city operations. The “CITY Now” (Continuous Improvement Through You) program is based on the Toyota Production System which the automaker introduced in Japan in the late 1940s. While the system is known by many names ? Continuous Improvement, Lean manufacturing, “Just in Time” production ? the concept is to identify and eliminate “waste” in a process. “Waste” can be found in manufacturing, office, or city processes.

The City got its start with continuous improvement through a collaboration with United Technologies Corporation Aerospace Systems – Aerostructures (UTAS, formerly Goodrich Aerostructures). At Goodrich, the staff shared its Continuous Improvement training (free of charge) with City employees. Since the first training in July 2008, streamlined processes have been developed for Public Works, Human Resources, City Clerk, City Attorney, Development Services, Finance, Parks, Recreation, Library, and the City Manager’s offices. With more than 100 Chula Vista staff now trained the Continuous Improvement (CI) program, the City is definitely operating more lean and efficiently.

The Goodrich team put hundreds of hours into providing several customized week-long training programs for City staff. Everyone who participated returned to work energized and motivated to implement the CI program. Since 2010, the City has conducted nearly 20 process improvement events to identify and eliminate “waste” in city processes. Let me share a few examples. The Department of Development Services is streamlining its permitting process. The Recreation Department reconfigured its scheduling to expand public hours at recreation centers. And the Finance Department used a technology solution to provide for online business license renewals.

The CITY Now program also is a key element of the new City Strategic Plan. The plan provides a comprehensive framework that ensures priorities set by the City Council are clear to all employees, goals are laid out that respond to priorities, objectives are achieved that meet the goals, and that city government is accountable to meeting community needs. The Strategic Plan centers on five core goals: Operational Excellence, Economic Vitality, Healthy Community, Strong & Secure Neighborhoods, and Connected Community. All of these goals contribute to a high Quality of Life for Chula Vista residents and businesses. Additionally, 13 strategies and 28 initiatives support the five core goals.

Continuous Improvement falls under the Operational Excellence goal and is defined by the Citywide Strategy to “Excel in service delivery by continuously improving.” Three initiatives outline how these efforts will be implemented.
We are working to instill Continuous Improvement throughout our culture. It’s not about working harder – it’s about working smarter. I thank the employees for their efforts to identify better processes to provide services more effectively. We will continue to deliver on that promise to provide high quality services to the community in the most efficient and effective way.

Sandoval is the Chula Vista City Manager.

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