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 involves City departments working together for the good of the community.
In support of the COVID-19 response, the Human Resources Department (HRD) collaborated with Austin Public Health, Austin Fire Department, and insurance companies to coordinate Employee COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics. HRD also developed a Vaccine Incentive program, which allows vaccinated employees access to leave if they are waiting for test results or become ill due to COVID. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in City buildings, the Building Services Department (BSD) implemented safety measures, such as installing physical barriers and cleaning more frequently. To protect and support populations vulnerable to loss of housing during the pandemic, Law Department staff drafted ordinances restricting evictions and service agreements to efficiently spend CARES Act funds. Law Department staff also successfully defended City regulations designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in court.
To advance equity in transit planning efforts, the Equity Office and Innovation Office collaborated with the City’s Economic Development Department, Housing and Planning Department, Project Connect Office, and 30 directly impacted community members to co-create Project Connect’s Racial Equity Anti-Displacement Tool which will help guide $300 million allocated towards anti-displacement efforts.
The City’s first Civil Rights Officer joined the organization in February 2021 and worked diligently to provide effective strategic enforcement of local anti-discrimination ordinances and federal statutes. Within the first 100 days, the OCR offered numerous educational workshops and met with more than 70 community members, faith-based leaders, private sector representatives and non-profit organizations. Additionally, OCR reconciled eight housing discrimination complaints and five employment discrimination complaints, resulting in just over $93,275 in monetary relief for the complainants.
Government that Works departments continued to show their dedication to providing equitable access to City programs and services. This year, the Communications and Public Information Office expanded the iSpeak Program, the City’s solution to language access services. The iSpeak Program provides community members with limited English proficiency with free resources and interpretation services to help them access City services in the language of their preference. Additionally, the City continues adapting to technological advancements by making services more accessible and user-friendly. Currently, the City provides 104 services available online, exceeding our goal of 100 services online.
As our city grows, keeping up with infrastructure is critical to maintaining services to all Austinites. The Communications Technology and Management (CTM) Department implemented life-cycle management to track network hardware, installed back-up generator power at critical infrastructure locations, and continued making the technology residents and City staff rely on more secure by replacing 1,400 network devices and enhancing network operations.
The organization’s financial stability is integral to the financial stability of our community. This year, the City’s Financial Services Department developed a balanced budget without layoffs during unprecedented circumstances and strengthened the City’s financial resiliency by achieving a 14% General Fund reserve and maximizing the taxpayer homestead exemption. The Intergovernmental Relations Office contributed to this balanced budget by leading, coordinating, negotiating, and monitoring federal legislation resulting in cost savings across the City.
These accomplishments cannot be achieved without the work and dedication of our City employees and residents. Our City continues to become a more inclusive, higher performing, and more strategic organization that builds trust with everyone in our community.
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:
- FY2021 Approved Budget: $21.8 million
- Full-time Employees: 189
- Relocated the Downtown Austin Community Court to One Texas Center. The new location provides DACC the space needed to meet the growing needs of our community and effectively administer its programs.
- Provided emergency response during Winter Weather Storm Uri. BSD provided uninterrupted power to multiple locations designated as critical infrastructures, responded to over 200 emergency facility requests at City of Austin locations and provided 24-hour support to the Emergency Operations Center.
- Provided operational and logistical support for the COVID-19 response. BSD implemented safety control measures across the portfolio including the installation of physical barriers, increased cleaning frequencies, and implemented policies and procedures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
- Diverted over 6,000 items from local landfills as part of our BSD 5S program. 113 items were repurposed and transferred to other City departments, and 6,238 items were auctioned off.
- Completed nine capital improvement projects for the Austin Fire Department and Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services that improve their ability to respond to the needs of the community and improve working conditions for staff.
- The Green Seal Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services, GS-42, establishes requirements for cleaning service providers of commercial, public, and institutional buildings, including in-house and external cleaning services, to ensure a quality operation carried out by a highly trained workforce skilled in effective green cleaning practices. Custodial teams meet requirements for building-specific operating procedures, sustainable purchasing, employee training, and tenant communications to ensure a safer, cleaner, healthier building for custodial teams and building occupants.
- Supported, facilitated, produced, and/or designed at least 60 virtual and a few face-to-face community meetings for 17 different department projects. In support of those projects, launched 57 new www.SpeakUpAustin.org project pages and collectively experienced over 64,000 visits to project pages. Many projects included information in Arabic, Burmese, Korean, Urdu, Vietnamese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese.
- Facilitated transparency, centering a diverse range of community voices, and closing the feedback loop with the community in support of the Reimagining Public Safety Initiative. Implemented the multimodal Reimagining Public Safety (RPS) strategic outreach plan, which included Community Conversations and input sharing tools hosted on six platforms in eight languages; two new RPS websites in English and Spanish; a multilingual budget engagement campaign; and prioritizing public input in the hiring of a new police Chief. Also implemented interactive digital dashboards, offering a comprehensive view of residents’ priorities for the future of public safety in Austin, as well as staff analysis of and progress toward advancing public safety reform recommendations from the City-Community RPS Task Force.
- Expanded the iSpeak Program, the City’s solution to language access services, which helps Austinites access City services in the language of their preference. Program expansion included launching an external webpage and an internal employee Language Access Center webpage to equip City staff with resources such as iSpeak Austin materials, interpretation and translation vendor information, and best practice guides. Since September 2020, trained 298 City staff across 30 departments in support of the City’s Language Access Program.
- Proactively promoted City related news stories by:
- Televising 64 news conferences, 42 of which were simulcasted in Spanish, covering COVID-19, Winter Storm Uri, and other major City news stories;
- Producing 42 episodes of CityView, the City of Austin’s weekly news program which included approximately 200 different stories; and
- Issuing 100 news releases – and facilitating news conferences – on a wide array of issues ranging from the City's homelessness response to the Civil Rights Office, Community Court, Budget, Council actions, Reimagining Public Safety, Police Chief hire, and Winter Storm Reports.
- Gained approximately 35,000 social media followers and significantly increased the engagement rate across the City’s main accounts, resulting in a more informed and connected community.
- Supported Austin Police Department’s (APDs) efforts to reach more diverse audiences. Expanded APD’s en Español Facebook page to include more Spanish-language content and offered more news conferences in Spanish. Assisted APD Recruiting in creating content to reach Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members, including having several officers with AAPI backgrounds attend events to share information about the Department's diversity.
- Increased transparency by providing technical and media relations support to execute the Austin Police Department’s (APD) new 10-day critical incident video release policy. Starting in 2021, APD began providing body-worn camera video and dash cam footage with 10 business days of a critical incident, such as an officer-involved shooting.
- Developed and implemented a comprehensive internal communications and change management strategy to increase City staff knowledge and buy-in critical to launching a new digital timekeeping system.
- Received the 2021 Government Experience Project Award from the Center for Digital Government for strategic communication work with the Reimagining Public Safety initiative.
- The Reimagining Public Safety initiative and strategic communications were recognized by Bloomberg's What Works Cities initiative, which honored the City of Austin as a 2021 Gold Certified City.
- Received 14 TATOA (statewide government video programming) awards, including 1st place for Overall Excellence and the Virtual Zilker Tree Lighting.
- Received 3 NATOA (national government video programming) awards, including Award of Excellence for the Mascots Unite PSA.
- APA-Texas Chapter Awards, Our Future Long-Range Plan as a recipient of the Chapter’s 2021 Public Outreach Achievement Award – Gold
- Provided WIFI inside kennels, outward-facing campus WIFI, an online scheduling tool, process optimizations, and an online adoption process including payments and donations (which have increased significantly) in collaboration with the Office of Performance Management and Austin Public Health (APH).
- Supported the migration of 27 departments and 2,500 users to an updated, standardized and scalable GIS platform as a long-term solution for improved GIS editing, viewing, and data analysis.
- Replaced 1,400 network devices and enhanced network operations, resulting in improved security, uptime, and performance. Implemented life-cycle management to track network hardware. Installed back-up generator power at critical infrastructure locations.
- Enhanced the WebEOC to include embedded dashboards, improved data searchability, comprehensive fulfillment details, and metrics and reporting.
- Set up a text messaging solution for improved response times, communications, and services pairing in collaboration with APH and their WIC programs.
- Gold Certification from What Works Cities given by Bloomberg Philanthropies for government transparency. The criteria for the certification focuses on the people, processes, and policies that are fundamental to a data-driven city, including data governance, evaluations, general management, open data, performance and analytics, repurposing, results-driven contracting, and stakeholder engagement.
- IBM Recognizes Women Leaders in AI: IBM recognized Divya Rathanlal, CTM IT Corporate Manager, as a part of their Women Leaders in Artificial Intelligence (AI) for 2020 for our work implementing AI solutions across the city.
- Responded to Winter Storm Uri by collaborating cross-departmentally to identify locations for water and food distribution. Staff were on community calls all day and late into the night to get households into hotels, especially those who were experiencing homelessness and interpersonal/domestic violence. Supported after-action efforts, such as the Winter Storm Uri Task Force, in listening to directly impacted community members.
- Collaborated with Economic Development, Housing and Planning, Office of Innovation, and the Office of Project Connect to lead the co-creation of Project Connect’s Racial Equity Anti-Displacement Tool in partnership with 30 directly impacted community members, also known as Catalysts, to help guide the $300 million allocated towards anti-displacement efforts. The Equity Office brought together cross-agency and cross departmental conversation on how transportation continues to affect marginalized communities, causing displacement, houselessness, isolation, and more. Equity Office staff onboarded agencies and departments through Undoing Racism trainings and Equity 101 trainings to foster critical thinking, build trust, and strengthen relationships. Equity Office staff also created space for the Catalysts to discuss their experiences and their communities’ experiences with the City.
- Released the LGBTQIA+ Quality of Life Study Report, which began in 2017, was released in October 2021, presented to the LGBTQIA+ Resource Advisory Commission and City Council. The placed a greater emphasis on a power analysis, rather than a needs analysis, to examine institutions and systems rather than individuals. Additionally, the Commission aimed the study to center the most directly impacted; queer people of color.
- As part of a larger equity task force group within Homelessness Response System Leadership Council (HRSLC), the Equity Office assisted in the creation of the Austin Prioritization Index (API). This tool was developed with racial and gender equity lenses and is the culmination of nearly two years of work by the Equity Task Group and members of the HRSLC. The API is a series of questions used during the Coordinated Entry process to determine the kind of housing intervention a person needs, prioritizing those who are most vulnerable to the risk of death while experiencing homelessness. Since October 1, 2021, all assessors have been trained using the API tool.
- To support Austin’s immigrant communities during this time, the City held six naturalization ceremonies, naturalizing approximately 600 people. The Equity Office partnered with Austin Public Library, with the support of Austin Public Health and USCIS, to provide on-site registration for library cards, voter registration, and a mobile vaccine site so people could get the COVID-19 vaccine after the ceremony. The Equity Office also launched the City’s first Immigrant Integration Grant, awarding 12 organizations with up to $10,000 for their continued work to center and uplift immigrant communities. As a response to the unsafe conditions of in-person activities during a pandemic, the Equity Office pivoted to online Undoing Racism trainings, which was a first for the office. To stay committed to language justice, it hosted its first undoing racism training in Spanish. Over the year, the Office trained over 200 individuals.
- Developed a balanced budget amidst unprecedented circumstances without layoffs while strengthening the financial resiliency of the city by achieving a 14 percent General Fund reserve and maximizing the taxpayer homestead exemption.
- Initiated and improved numerous training and skills development programs including the Construction Training Program and Small Business Contracting Forum, which achieved a 106 percent attendance increase via a new virtual platform.
- Completed a pilot of the UKG digital timekeeping system for 600 employees and rolled out to another 1,000 employees citywide. Future phases will transition all departments to the new system.
- Led the city’s COVID-19 financial response including a budgetary spending framework, reporting federal grant spending, and contracting for goods and services, including hotels used as protective lodges and isolation facilities.
- Restored the Austin Police Retirement System to a financially sustainable path by successfully getting enacted extensive legislative reforms, including: A lower benefit tier, increased contributions, and an actuarially-based funding model.
- Government Finance Officers' Association Budget Distinguished Budget Presentation Award
- Government Finance Officers' Association Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Award
- ICMA Certificate of Excellence in Performance Management
- Digital Inclusion Trailblazers Award by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance
- Earned 8th consecutive Achievement in Procurement Excellence (AEP) Award from the National Procurement Institute (NPI)
- Earned 3rd consecutive Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) Award for excellence in procurement of sustainable electronics from the Green Electronics Council
- Government Treasurers’ Organization of Texas Investment Policy Certificate of Distinction
- Coordinated Employee Covid Vaccination Clinics with Austin Public Health, Austin Fire Department, and the City’s insurance provider.
- Developed Vaccine Incentive Program. Researched and benchmarked a variety of vaccine incentive programs and presented to the Council an option that was unanimously supported. Effective starting October 2021, vaccinated employees have access to paid leave if they are awaiting test results or become ill due to COVID.
- Participated in the Emergency Operations Center COVID-related activation; integral in finding personnel to staff the various testing and vaccine sites.
- Updated the Listening to the Workforce Citywide Survey to be more human-centered, focused on employee engagement, and supportive of employee growth. To perform this update, HRD staff completed extensive research and benchmarked best practices for surveying employees to achieve meaningful and actionable results in support of Government that Works for All Strategy 13 which focuses on establishing a workplace culture of high performance, continuous improvement and innovation. .
- HealthyConnections won the 2021 Moving the Needle Award for Innovation. This award recognizes the innovative steps that the City of Austin took during the COVID-19 pandemic to pivot its wellness programming to serve the needs of City employees.
and helped facilitate the city-wide Reimagining Public Safety (RPS)
listening sessions. Conducted complex sentiment analysis and produced
visualizations that reflected the community’s voice during these difficult
but crucial conversations.
the Project Connect Racial Equity Tool and a manual for the City’s first
racial equity catalyst model. Both are adaptable for multiple use cases.
long-term sustainability of the Austin Civilian Conservation Corps (ACCC)
Program, a COVID-19 response program that provides a living wage and
training for green careers. Successfully
transferred the ACCC to a permanent home in PARD, with EDD as a major
collaborator. Secured $6 million in ARPA
funding to grow the program through 2024 and began community-based and economic
research projects to further inform the program as it grows. Also expanded the
number and type of resident employment programs supported by the ACCC which has
now created over 100 employment opportunities and continues expanding.
- Completed Austin’s
second Open Government Partnership Action Plan, which included five
long-term collaborative projects between the City and community that
demonstrate OGP’s values of access, participation, accountability, and
- Worked with University
of Texas to establish a master interlocal agreement, which allows up to
$1.5M annual spending and streamlines the process for creating
research-based collaborations between the City and university.
- Received the 2021 Government Experience award from the Center for Digital Government as part of the Reimagining Public Safety Initiative Strategic communications and engagement campaign
- Facilitated negotiations between the City, Austin Police Retirement System (APRS), and the Austin Legislative delegation to achieve the passage of HB 4368 by Representative Eddie Rodriguez that made fundamental and necessary changes to improve the financial viability of the Austin Police Retirement System.
- Led the legislative effort between the City and Travis County to achieve the passage of SB 58 by Senator Zaffirini that allows the city to issue debt for cloud computing to modernize the financing of technology platforms, resulting in potential cost savings to the City.
- Coordinated the legislative and communications efforts between the City and 30 community businesses, associations, and neighborhood groups to successfully defeated the passage of HB3813, the Noise Ordinance bill, that would have allowed the level of noise for bars on Historic 6th street to occur in every neighborhood in the City.
- Worked strategically and collaboratively with departments to mitigate potential public safety contract grievances and employee grievances.
- Supported implementation of the COA Reimagine Public Safety efforts to protect civil rights for all people and provide better coordination of services to the Austin community.
- Prepared for the upcoming FY 2021-2022 bargaining and negotiation process and will implement measures to keep the workforce and the public safe during the pandemic.
- Drafted orders, ordinances and agreements to protect populations vulnerable to loss of housing during the pandemic.
- Drafted ordinances, agreements, and resolutions to implement Project Connect.
- Drafted contracts and grants for the City to efficiently spend CARES Act funds to assist musicians, venues, and service industries, including providing advice on applying an equity lens to funded programs.
- Participated in court proceedings to defend City regulations designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The City of Austin’s inaugural Civil Rights Officer began in February of 2021, and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) immediately began extensive community outreach and engagement efforts and worked to develop an operational infrastructure and establish effective strategic investigation processing of local anti-discrimination ordinances and federal statutes. In its first 100 days, OCR leadership met with more than 70 community members, faith-based leaders, private sector representatives and non-profit organizations and has been educating, engaging and collaborating with Austin residents through numerous educational workshops. Additionally, the newly established office:
- Increased its presence and visibility in the community by establishing its online presence through its new SpeakUp Austin page, a new OCR webpage, and creating an online complaint process to provide easier access for individuals to file discrimination complaints with the City.
- Engaged in extensive community engagement and outreach initiatives, including the launch of the comprehensive education and outreach campaign Civil Rights ATX Aware which is designed to educate the public and stakeholders on anti-discrimination laws enforced by the City. Additional OCR community engagement efforts included:
- Hosting a four-part fair chance hiring virtual workshop series to inform the public, the re-entry community, employers, housing providers, businesses and HR professionals on the Fair Chance Hiring ordinance;
- Hosting a two-part workshop, “Civil Rights ATX: Combatting Hate Crimes in the AAPI Community,” in partnership with APD to work to reduce hate bias and violence in the Asian American Pacific Islander community by educating on civil and criminal enforcement of civil rights;
- Presenting with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Austin Texas Chapter during a Facebook Live event to inform constituents of civil rights protections;
- Collaborating with the Austin Police Department Office of Community Liaison APD-OCL during its 2021 Summer Youth Leadership Program; and
- Commissioning a Disability Quality of Life study.
- Worked with City leadership and community partners to successfully advocate against SB14 through testimony before the Texas Legislature against this preemption bill which would have prohibited expanded civil rights enforcement and voided existing fair chance hiring and rest and water break protections.
- Secured substantial recovery for those experiencing housing and employment discrimination in Austin. As part of its enforcement efforts, OCR conciliated eight housing discrimination complaints, resulting in $13,141.81 in monetary relief for Complainants; and it conciliated five employment discrimination complaints, resulting in $80,235.08 in monetary relief for Complainants.