Works for All
Government That Works for All Outcome: Believing that City government works effectively and collaboratively for all of us; that it is equitable, ethical, and innovative
As an organization, we believe that city government should work effectively and collaboratively for all of us, which means it’s equitable, ethical, and innovative. The Government That Works for All strategic outcome cannot be accomplished without community collaboration, dedication from our City employees, and strong investments in infrastructure, facilities and technology. This year, thanks to our City employees, we made significant strides in improving organizational efficiency among the enterprise, increasing public access to critical information, and securing resources to support the most vulnerable communities. As officials developed response and preparedness plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, the departments within the Government That Works for All strategic outcome quickly assembled to maintain essential services and ensure success across the organization.
In support of the COVID-19 response, the Communications and Technology Management (CTM) Department, Communications and Public Information Office (CPIO), and the Austin Public Health (APH) Department collaborated to make COVID-19 data readily available to the public. In partnership, the departments built a complex environment that hosts a variety of data sets and interactive dashboards for COVID-19 decision makers, added a chatbot to the City’s main website to help visitors find information quickly, and developed an online reservation system offered in six languages to help people register for free COVID-19 testing at a site closest to them.
Additionally, the Government That Works for All cohort stepped up to ensure departments and the City Council experienced minimal disruptions in access to and delivery of services. CTM and the Human Resources Department (HRD) helped rapidly mobilize City employees to shift from in-office work environments to virtual work environments. Prior to March 2020 and COVID-19 Stay Home-Work Safe Orders, an estimated 10% of the City’s workforce participated in teleworking. Within two months after issuing the orders, more than 51% of the City’s workforce was equipped and able to telework with minimal service disruption to City operations.
Furthermore, CPIO and CTM worked hand in hand with the City Clerk’s Office to offer live access to all City Council meetings and Board and Commission meetings so that City Council members, their staff, and the public could easily access meetings and participate from the safety of their homes. Unlike other municipalities, the City of Austin was able to maintain the regular Council meeting schedule, including the addition of a few special called meetings, without the need to cancel or postpone any meetings In fact, we held the first partially virtual City Council meeting on March 26, two days after issuing the City’s first Stay Home-Work Safe Order, and converted to a fully virtual meeting format on April 9, just 13 days after issuing the orders. Moreover, in June, we were able to facilitate 2,762 speakers virtually, setting a record high, and during the July 29 and 30 City Council meetings, we facilitated 945 registered speakers.
With the goal of addressing all aspects of municipal operations, the Financial Services Department (FSD) successfully presented a carefully crafted balanced budget, under a 3.5% revenue cap, avoided employee layoffs or furloughs, all while keeping reserves at 12%. As the Intergovernmental Relations Office (IGRO) carefully monitored federal legislation and available financial support, FSD also:
- Developed a $440 million Coronavirus Spending Framework;
- Created an online coronavirus financial reporting dashboard;
- Distributed 640 refurbished desktop, laptop, and/or tablet devices to non-profits and the underserved community, exceeding the goal of 375 devices by 170%;
- Complied with all U.S. Treasury Department reporting requirements for the Coronavirus Relief Fund; and
- Awarded emergency contracts to purchase Personal Protective Equipment for City employees and residents.
Due to the quick actions of these departments, our organization is poised to continue responding to and supporting the community during these challenging times and will emerge even stronger. The following highlights are additional efforts made by the departments within the Government That Works for All strategic outcome over this past year.
Browse each department's accomplishments:
- FY2020 Approved Budget: $19.4 million
- Full-time Employees: 185
- Assisted Austin Public Health Department with opening protection lodges and isolation facilities repurposed to shelters for homeless and vulnerable populations.
- Established and implemented COVID-19 risk mitigation procedures including cleaning protocols, emergency response sanitizing, and establishing social distancing signage and barriers for City of Austin building occupants and visitors.
- Provided operational and management support for the opening of the new state-of-the-art Permitting and Development Center at Highland Mall.
- Oversaw and coordinated with 18 departments and 55 different City of Austin communications employees to staff the Joint Information System and support the communications needs of the COVID-19 response. Based on a survey of Austinites conducted during the summer, our combined efforts resulted in 68% of residents who felt communications about COVID-19 information and order were “very effective” or “somewhat effective.”
- In partnership with Austin Public Health, the Equity Office, and community partners, we successfully streamed the City’s first Facebook Live en Español “Juntos Contra COVID19.” The show focused of the challenges and experiences of the Hispanic/Latinx Spanish speaking community. According to post event results, the City:
- Reached over 50,000 viewers;
- Obtained 671 likes, comments and shares;
- Posted 1,702 post clicks and 831 clicks to play; and
- Gained over 52,000 organic impressions.
- The City’s government access channel, ATXN, facilitated 41 news conferences in support of the City’s COVID-19 response, working with Austin Public Health and the Joint Information System. Of these, 31 were virtual and 19 were simulcast in Spanish.
- Designed and implemented a Language Access Basic Training for City staff, especially those who interact with Austinites that are English language learners, to provide awareness around language access services and the organization’s obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
- Delivered a new CitySpace — a modern, user-centric employee website with over 328,000 unique visits since its launch on June 1.
- Traffic to austintexas.gov increased by 151% in FY20 and there was an 11% increase in users who reported that the site is easy to navigate.
- Gained about 40,000 followers and significantly increased the engagement rate across the main City social media accounts resulting in a more informed and connected community.
- Sent out 50 weekly newsletters to all employees with current information on benefits, policies, and general City news.
- Launched an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot to provide timely and accurate COVID-19 information to Austin residents by leveraging the power of IBM’s Watson artificial intelligence.
- Relocated City of Austin’s data center, resulting in improved network security and a more resilient, reliable, and efficient data center benefiting both residents and staff.
- Managed the creation and adoption of a five-year interlocal agreement between the City of Austin and UT to streamline the approval process for joint research projects with pre-approved access to $7.5 million in funding.
- Activated multiple emergency evacuation centers with the technology needed to process the 3,000 Hurricane Laura evacuees.
- COVID-19 Response Special Award, given by the Center for Digital Government to honor U.S. governments who are leveraging innovative IT to enhance services and citizen experience during the pandemic
- 2020 PTI Solution Awards, given by the Public Technology Institute and the Computer Technology Industry Association, recognizing the City of Austin and Travis County collaboration on COVID-19 response
- Excellence in the Field Award, given by the American Public Works Association Texas Chapter, recognizing the City’s multi-departmental efforts in support of the Homeless Encampment Clean Up Pilot Program which tested a standardized process for cleaning encampments, especially on Watershed Protection lands (This particular award recognized all these departments: Communications and Technology Management’s Office of Design and Delivery, Austin Police, Parks and Recreation, Austin Public Health, Austin Resource Recovery, Public Works, Watershed Protection, and Downtown Austin Community Court.)
- Developed the Equity Guide to COVID-19 for our Emergency Operations Center and trained both City and County staff on the basics of responding to the pandemic with a racial equity lens.
- Launched the City’s first direct cash assistance program, and in the first 72 hours, distributed $2 million in direct relief to 1,000 families through a partnership with 30 local community organizations and the Family Independence Initiative.
- Consulted and worked with Austin Public Health on COVID-19 testing locations, the inclusion of demographic data on the pandemic dashboard, and prioritizing language justice by hosting a multilingual COVID-19 town hall discussion allowing community to participate in Arabic, English, Burmese, Spanish, and Vietnamese simultaneously.
- Distributed $650,000 in grants as part of the Equity Min-Grant Fund, to community-based organizations for projects ranging from training Black and Hispanic/Latinx youth in emerging fields to leveraging unemployed artists to addressing senior isolation and depression.
- Engaged over 1,000 people in equity related workshops and trainings ranging from Undoing Racism Classes hosted with the Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond, Equity 101 workshops, the Annual Equity Forum, and numerous panel discussions and conference appearances.
- Developed a balanced budget for FY21 with the no employee layoffs, no furloughs, and the lowest tax increase since FY 2005 despite a severe economic contraction caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
- Issued the City’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report 25 days in advance of deadline.
- Launched a more user-friendly Strategic Direction 2023 performance dashboard.
- Implemented eResponse for online solicitation submissions by vendors doing business with the City, improving the overall procurement process by making it easier, faster and digital.
- Transitioned citywide cash handling and petty cash trainings to a virtual format.
- Government Finance Officers’ Association Budget Distinguished Budget Presentation Award
- International City/County Management Association Certificate of Excellence in Performance Management
- Achievement in Procurement Excellence Award from the National Procurement Institute
- Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool award for excellence in procurement of sustainable electronics from the Green Electronics Council
- Named a 2020 Digital Inclusion Trailblazer by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance
- Government Treasurers’ Organization of Texas Investment Policy Certificate of Distinction
- Mobilized virtual learning tools, first with posting developed content, and then working with LinkedIn Learning to provide resources across the City. All academy classes were transitioned to virtual learning to allow for learning to continue, but at a distance.
- Initiated curriculum design on a Citywide Implicit Bias training program. Human Resources worked with the consultant to host internal sessions for employee feedback and develop a workplace culture survey.
- Helped the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staff with various new roles created by the pandemic such as temperature takers at City facilities, staff for the Isolation Facilities, and additional day-to-day work in the EOC related to finance, purchasing, and logistics.
- Created several new procedures to implement new City employee leave programs in response to the federal government’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which provided for Emergency Paid Sick Leave and expanded paid Family and Medical Leave.
- Received Gallagher Best-of-the-Best Employer Award — An analysis of healthcare cost containment and HR management revealed the City of Austin ranked in the top 3% as one of the best-of-the-best employers for healthcare cost control and HR management.
- Held the Displacement Mitigation Action Accelerator where community partners collaborated to fund innovative solutions for displacement in Austin. Solutions were data-informed and developed directly with residents with lived experience.
- Created MyPass, an advanced digital platform that allows people experiencing homelessness to secure, store, and transact vital documents, which empowers residents and improves access to vital services.
- Analyzed Austin Police Department and 911 calls for service data to inform the City’s Reimagining Public Safety initiative. The analysis seeded a broader equity analysis of police technology taking place in FY21.
- Coordinated and responded to information and legislative requests between City, County and State stakeholders and elected officials by developing COVID-19 specific responses.
- Regularly communicated with our federal and state delegations and provided briefings with key City department officials regarding COVID-19 specific issues;
- Led the COVID-19 Legislative Affairs Cabinet to coordinate legislative requests to Congress and the State; and
- Tracked CARES legislation and grants and assisted departments and Council with implementing the requirements of the CARES Act and the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF).
- Mitigated potential public safety contract grievances and employee grievances.
- Contributed to the City of Austin’s Reimagining Public Safety efforts to protect civil rights for all people and provide better coordination of services to the Austin community.
- Prepared for what will likely be a contentious bargaining process as the Labor Relations Office negotiates to secure new public safety agreements for 2022.