Create a Chief Accountability Officer

Answer

Too much time and taxpayer money are spent exploring ideas that other cities have already researched and implemented.  As Mayor, I will hold Council and City Administration accountable to our defined goals and objectives, to maintaining focus, and to ensuring our debates, motions, and inquiries are based on the principles of our own planning. 

Effectively leading A City That Works starts with a Council that works. Both during my time at Innovate Edmonton when I would participate in Committee and Council meetings to today, I continually notice that far too much time, energy, and taxpayer money is wasted exploring ideas that other cities have already researched and implemented. We need to embrace their learnings. 

The feeling that we spin our wheels wasting time on unnecessary pilot projects or chasing ideas that lack common sense is something I have heard time and again from the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with Edmontonians since I announced my Mayoral intentions last year.

On top of this, members of Council have directed work that isn’t aligned with where we, as Edmontonians, have said we want to go. Sometimes it goes against the interests of our community partners, be they local businesses, hardworking non-profits, or other orders of government.

Finally, it’s important that we recognize that institutional knowledge is one of our city’s most important assets.  We have a new City Manager and are about to welcome a number of brand new Council members.  In order for them to be effective will require historical knowledge of things we’ve tried before or are already doing. 

The bottom line is that we’re wasting time, and other cities are outpacing us.

The Policy

As Mayor, I will lead a collaborative, aligned council. I commit to ensuring our debates, motions, and inquiries are based on the principles of our own planning. The City Plan is our guiding document. We’ve gotten off course on too many occasions and lost the thread on what to care about and spend time on. While individual councillors can vote as they like, as Mayor I will hold Council and City Administration accountable to our defined goals and objectives.

When elected, I will establish an ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICER, independent of City Administration, who will rapidly vet and inform any motions or work directed by City Council upfront of the work beginning. 

This experienced City Builder will advise Council of previous explorations of the topic, how other cities have tackled the problem, whether it aligns with Edmonton's vision and values, and whether it serves to strengthen our partnerships. They will keep us focused on the bold action we need to take to recover from COVID-19, to align with our city plan, address our biggest challenges such as houselessness, and continue building a City that retains and attracts the best talent in the world. 

Specifically, this independent role would:

  • Be responsible for advising Council and Mayor if the motion/inquiry or line of work has been explored before, advising of the results of past exploration and an assessment of whether conditions/context has changed sufficiently to warrant another examination. They would also complete a preliminary jurisdictional scan and advise how other Cities have answered the question or tackled the issue.
  • This position would sit outside of Administration (similar to the Office of the City Auditor or the Office of the Integrity Commissioner) and provide non-binding advice to members of Council.
  • Advise how motions/inquiries/work aligns with stated values, visions, and plans as well as considerations for partnerships with other orders of government/regional partners/post secondaries/non-profits/business and first nations communities. 
  • Suggest changes or amendments to the motion/inquiry/approach to mitigate and align.
  • Be responsible for tracking the full-time and money cost of reports and council directed work to ensure the focused and disciplined expenditure of energy and resources. 

The Outcome

The work Council directs is focused and aligned with the vision and goals of the City Plan and ConnectEdmonton. It strengthens our partnerships with other orders of government, the region, non-profit/post-secondary sector, first nations, and our business communities. We no longer spend time reopening and examining things we have already done in the past unless the context has changed enough to warrant it. We stop trying to “reinvent the wheel” and can take the lessons from other cities on the front end. 

All Council directed work is clearly costed out, so we know exactly how much time and money was spent on preparing reports and doing work that diverged from approved work plans. This rigor and accountability will reduce the amount of unnecessary motions/reports and allow Council and Admin to apply limited taxpayer resources more effectively

This is an innovative solution that drives real results and maximizes the City’s use of your tax dollar and the valuable time of city staff and community partners. Having a council that is focused and aligned will set the tone at the top. This is a specific and impactful action that the mayor can actually do.