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ROLE 5: Assist Elected Officials or Citizens

Practice 5b. Report performance: Produce and issue external periodic performance reports.

Portland, Oregon, City Auditor [Profile]

Since inception of this practice in 1992 (initially for City Fiscal Year ending June 30, 1991), the City Auditor’s Office has published sixteen annual performance reports on city services under the title Service Efforts and Accomplishments (SEA).  The December 2006 SEA report, for City Fiscal Year 2005-06 covers twelve large city bureaus (departments) which provide the following services: Fire and Rescue, Police, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, Environmental Services, Water, Development Services, Housing and Community Development, Planning, the Portland Development Commission, the Office of Sustainable Development, and Emergency Communications. These services involve 76 percent of the city’s budget and 83 percent of its staff. The 2005-06 report also included the 2006 Business Survey in Appendix B.  For the 2005-06 SEA Report, the City Auditor’s Office used a total of 2,814 staff-hours, including citizen survey administration, intercity data collection, report writing, preparation, and distribution.

In 2007, in an effort to make public reporting more user-friendly to citizens, the City Auditor’s Office worked with the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) to serve as a pilot city in the AGA’s Citizen-Centric Government Reporting initiative.  Portland became the first major metropolitan city in the U.S. to create a four-page summary of city finances and service performance, issued in May 2007 as the Auditor’s Report to Residents.

The 2004-05 SEA Report was the first to report results from a more extensive citizen’s survey done by neighborhood (see Practice 3b. Collect datato be done in alternating years.  In addition to including results as an appendix to the SEA report, the auditor’s office added an interactive feature to its website for reporting neighborhood results.  Users can either view in-depth results by neighborhood, or can view results across neighborhoods for any single question, such as “how safe do you feel in your neighborhood at night?”  More detailed information, such as neighborhood maps, survey methodology and forms can also be found on the auditor’s website.

The detailed neighborhood comparisons complement broader comparisons of citizen survey results, and results for other selected performance measures, for larger geographic districts, reported in each year’s SEA Report, including maps showing results for each district.  SEA reports also use other comparisons to provide context to help users understand performance, including comparisons over time, against targets or standards, and against similar cities.

The stated purposes of the SEA Report are to improve the public accountability of city government; assist council, management, and citizens in making decisions; and help improve the delivery of public services.  Starting with the 2002-03 SEA Report, the City Auditor’s Office has organized report chapters and performance results by major City Council and bureau goals, to emphasize alignment of performance measures in the city’s managing for results process.  The City Auditor’s Office helped influence the city government to initiate the managing for results process, and has advised management on implementing it (see Practice 4b. Assist management).

For its fiscal year 2004, 2005 and 2006 SEA reports (issued in 2005, 2006, and 2007), the City Auditor’s Office was recognized by the Sloan Foundation and the Association of Government Accountants with the “Certificate of Achievement in Service Efforts and Accomplishments Reporting,” one of the first three-time winners of this award.

More information on the range of data included in the SEA reports, including more details on the comparisons used, such as the comparison cities [Example in 2004 Guide-PDF]


Interactive Web-based Reporting Feature

Neighborhood Survey interactive feature

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