How Austin Sets Targets
The City of Austin emphasizes that departments set realistic, yet challenging, annual targets for their measures. As performance has improved, departments have also increased the difficulty of their targets to keep pace, reflecting the City's commitment to continuous improvement. In a few cases, the targets are extremely difficult to reach but have been set as such to reflect City or department ideals. For instance, in FY 2010-11, the Austin Fire Department lowered its goal for the measure “Number of fire deaths in the past 12 months” from 6, which was a reasonable annual target based on statistical data, to zero, which is the ideal state for the Austin community. This updated goal will be extremely difficult to reach but has been set according to the values of the organization. This zero target was again set for FY 2015-16, and like in previous years, the target was not met because, unfortunately, there were fire deaths. As such, reaching 100% of the targets set for these performance measures may never be realized. However, setting targets, tracking and analyzing data, and discussing and making decisions off of the outcomes are beneficial processes for the City organization and critical to improving City services and delivery.
It is also important to not only compare performance against set targets, but to also assess improvement from year to year. This year, 61% of the key indicators maintained or improved in FY 2015-16 compared to the prior year of FY 2014-15. Also, 89% have a general trend of improved or maintained performance over either a 7-year or the earliest available timeframe.
City management, Council, and citizens depend on reliable and accurate data in order to make the best decisions possible from the performance information. City staff take several steps to ensure the accuracy of reported data. Each measure included in this report goes through several layers of review at multiple levels of the organization. In addition, the City has a formal measure assessment process that staff use to review the accuracy of data reporting. The measure assessment program is now in its fourth year. Although not all of the measures included in this report have received formal assessments, all of the data for the measures in this report have been reviewed for accuracy.
Introduced in the FY 2014-15 Annual Performance Report, the City of Austin Dashboard and the departmental summary charts include a general trend column, indicating overall trends of improving, declining, or maintained performance throughout the seven-year history of FY 2009-10 through FY 2015-16.
The criteria for determining the trends were as follows:
- Four consecutive transitions in the same direction of the most recent years (from FY 2012-13 through FY 2015-16) constitutes a trend.
- At least two transitions in the same direction are needed to constitute a trend. In the case of only two transitions moving in the same direction, a trend can only be established by a significant variance from FY 2009-10 to FY 2015-16.
- In cases where there are one or more ties in value between one year and the next, a trend can only be established by two or more of the remaining transitions going in the same direction and having a significant variance from FY 2009-10 to FY 2015-16.
- When there are exceptions, the trend value is based on whether the FY 2015-16 value is higher or lower than the average of the seven years (or all available years).
- Data points that were more than 3 standard deviations from the 7-year average were analyzed for the underlying events behind them. Depending on the circumstances, these outliers may have been excluded from the trend determination.
Dataset for the 2016 Annual Performance Report
Here's a few years' of data for the 130-plus key performance indicators in this annual report.