Lean Six Sigma and Its Results for City Government

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By Annise D. Parker, Mayor of the City of Houston

In November, the City of Houston published the 1st Quarter FY2015 Performance Insight, a quarterly performance management report designed to provide City leaders and the public with insight into the outcomes of City policies and budgetary decisions.

My introduction to the report discusses the achievements of the Lean Six Sigma program I created which now has over 1,000 trained City employees deploying this widely held process improvement methodology in their workplace to improve services and do more with less.

When I became Mayor, I saw an opportunity to further encourage and develop the talents of our dedicated employees by providing Lean Six Sigma training, a systematic problem solving technique intended to reduce waste, improve processes, and enhance quality of operations.  We’ve built one of the largest and most intensive public quality regimens in the world.  Our goal is to create a grassroots culture of continuous improvement and continue to build upon our successes.

Our accomplishments to date utilizing Lean Six Sigma include:

  • Reorganization of taxi cab permitting and reduction of processing time from one month to five days on average.
  • An increase in court collections of more than 10 percent resulting in a net annual increase of over $1.2 million.
  • Improvement of the receiving and payments for the City’s fleet and reduction of processing time from 110 days on average to less than three days (with four fewer employees).
  • An increase in the number of Fire Alarm Permits issued by 49 percent and reduction in processing time by 86 percent.
  • A 50 percent reduction in processing time for Commercial Permits while simultaneously increasing permit volume by identifying non-compliant businesses.
  • Streamlining the way the mayor’s office responds to mail and requests from citizens.

This quarter’s Performance Insight Report includes the following highlights:

  • The Administration and Regulatory Affairs Department’s Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control (BARC) Animal Live Release Rate increased by 10 percent from last quarter due to increased adoptions and the successful animal transport program.  As a long-term solution, BARC continues to enhance its Spay/Neuter Program which has exceeded its first quarter target for procedures performed by 11 percent.  This is in addition to the 17 percent increase in Spay and Neuter procedures performed last fiscal year.
  • The Housing and Community Development Department has housed 229 chronically homeless individuals this fiscal year-to-date which is 83 percent higher than their quarterly target.  Through an aggressive Housing First strategy, the Department is working with local agencies to create permanent accommodations and provide supportive services to this population.  This has resulted in a 30 percent reduction in chronic homelessness last year and a 57 percent reduction since 2011.
  • The Houston Public Library experienced the highest monthly circulation numbers in recent years during the month of July with individuals checking out more than 434,000 materials.  The Library attributes this to normal seasonal variation and increased participation in the Summer Reading Program which drew 33 percent more participants this summer (from 18,000 students in 2013 to 24,000 students in 2014).

There are many other great stories about how City employees are adopting the continuous improvement mindset and giving the citizens of Houston more bang for their buck.  To learn more about all of the exciting ways the City is improving the way it serves the citizens of Houston, please visit www.Performance.Houstontx.Gov.

Serving since January 2, 2010, Annise D. Parker has been elected as the Mayor of Houston three times.  She is Houston’s 61st Mayor and one of only two women to hold the City’s highest elected office.  In 2010, Time Magazine named Mayor Parker one the 100 most influential people in the world.  Mayor Annise Parker is a Steering Committee Member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and serves on President Barack Obama’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience.  She is also on the advisory board of Small Business Today Magazine.  For more information, go to www.houstontx.gov/mayor/.

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