Friday, August 12, 2011

Is the CFPUA Really 5th Best Out of 80?

That's what a new article would have you believe.  Here are some quotes from it.

The utility authority ranked fifth best of the 80 agencies evaluated by Woolpert, a consulting agency hired by the utility authority in March to conduct an efficiency study.

[...] The more than $29,000 contract was awarded to Woolpert, a consulting firm that has worked with hundreds of state, county and local government organizations, including utility companies in Florida, Kentucky and Colorado. Woolpert said in its proposals that its studies identify opportunities to improve an organization's performance by 10 to 40 percent with an average of 26 percent.
Ok, so if there's one thing I hear most it's that the Utility Authority is horrible. Bar none, that's the most popular thing I say, that I want to eliminate the Utility Authority. So, needless to say, I was surprised to see this report.

Here's what the report actually says about its own metrics.

CFPUA (pg. 8):
“Benchmarking” is a term that is often used in discussions about best practices. There are a number of definitions of benchmarking. In the public sector, benchmarking may refer to metrics, or ratios of some measure. Examples include breaks/mile of pipe, #staff/1,000 customers, $/million gallons treated, and so on. Comparing benchmarks of this nature across agencies is generally non-productive due to differences in circumstances including geography, regional issues, and specific processes. A more productive approach is for a public agency to determine what practice performance benchmarks it will track, establish a current baseline performance level, and to compare its performance to itself over the course of time. This is “Practice Benchmarking” and is the basis for our evaluation of the Authority.
Did everyone get that?  What they're saying is that they're using no objective measurements, or at least traditional objective measurements. They're simply comparing the Utility Authority to itself. So, I guess they went from terrible to less terrible. That makes them the 5th best out of 80 Utility Authorities?

They give no original data for this, but if you look at pg. 17 here, you can see that "customer feedback" is listed as one of the Authority's strongest areas. Can anyone believe that?  It's a joke.

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