Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Hall Gets B- in Survey Study Measured Management Areas

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Hall Gets B- in Survey Study Measured Management Areas

Article excerpt

Outdated technology and human resources systems drove down an evaluation of Jacksonville City Hall in a recent nationwide study.

With a grade of B-, Jacksonville ranked near the middle of the 35-city study by Syracuse University and Governing magazine published Monday.

The study measured five city management areas: financial, human resources, information technology, capital and results. Jacksonville was the only Florida city in the study, which examined the nation's cities with the largest overall revenues. Phoenix was the only city to receive an A.

Cities nationwide -- including Jacksonville -- lagged in their information technology systems and human resources, said Pat Ingraham, the study's director.

Richard Saig, Jacksonville's chief of information technologies, said he didn't know what criteria the study used to give the department a C, lower than the nation's average grade of C-plus. He said he has not seen a full copy of the report.

The cities that scored the highest in information technology have strategic plans for their technology departments and update them regularly, about every six months, said Richard Greene, co-author of the report. He said strategic plans are "crucial" because cities invest huge amounts of money in technology.

Greene said Jacksonville also needs to increase its Web site's capabilities so residents can do business with the city via the Internet. For example, some cities allow residents to pay parking tickets or complete permit or license applications online.

Saig said the report may have caught Jacksonville too soon.

City Hall has a strategic plan, he said, although it's informal because technology is constantly changing. And the city has plans to make more services available on its Web site.

The report reflects an information technology department that is a work-in-progress, said Susan Wiles, the mayor's chief of staff.

"We are in a growth phase that is not finished yet in our [information technology] divisions," she said. "It's like someone coming in and taking a midterm snapshot before you were ready for the final exam. The whole technology world is moving so fast. …

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