Municipal Monitor Q1 2017 - Page 12

Focus Group Feedback
Cover Story pressmaster / bigstockphoto . com

Focus Group Feedback

• “ One of the main effects of reporting is that it sticks municipalities in a compliance-of-the-moment mentality , and prevents them from being pro-active and forward-looking .” – Focus Group Participant
• “ It is more the case that reporting to the province is done because it is mandatory , not because it generates value . If municipalities saw the value of the data they collect for reporting , they would be eager to co-ordinate , participate and find the utility of the reporting .” – Focus Group Participant
• “ One major struggle is that municipalities don ’ t always know what the data is used for , and the province doesn ’ t communicate about the value of the information that is being collected .” – Focus Group Participant
10 Q1 2017 www . amcto . com
reporting process , AMCTO members say they wonder how much of the data they report are duplicated , of value , or shared with stakeholders .
While conducting its research , AMCTO attempted to draft a master list , but Johal acknowledges that it is only a start .
“ Although we did our best to collect a list , it would be helpful for the province to produce an official list for transparency ’ s sake ,” he said .
The province uses reporting to hold the municipal sector accountable in a number of areas . However , the reporting function has grown excessively and in direct correlation to the number of services a municipality provides .
“ Fulfilling our municipal reporting obligation to the province is very onerous ,” said Kim Wingrove , chief administrative officer for Grey County . “ Many of the data points collected are not outcome-type measures and don ’ t provide data to assist with decisionmaking . Providing municipal staff with a better understanding of the outcomes of these data collections and how they are being utilized would be beneficial .”
While some municipalities provide fewer than 90 reports annually , others may be responsible for more than 200 a year . For instance , in 2012 the City of Toronto documented that it submitted about 270 reports to 11 separate provincial ministries or agencies , not considering grant-based reporting or audits .
The result ? Municipal employees said they now find it difficult to keep up with the reporting for which they are responsible , while at the same time maintaining service delivery in their communities .
Focus group participants spoke at length about the historical nature of reporting compliance . The province most often asks local government staff to look back in time , whereas service delivery challenges exist in the present and innovation requires municipal staff to look forward . Some participants felt their reporting obligations impacted their ability to be pro-active and future-oriented .
“ Staff are challenged with the lack of time and resources to undertake the kind of trend or sensitivity analysis that