September 22, 2015Policy Report

Tulsa: Using Data to Improve Performance and Efficiency

Local/ 2015/

The city of Tulsa has launched a new performance management initiative to improve outcomes for its citizens by bettering the efficiency of its operations. The first steps in the initiative have been to set citywide goals shared by the Mayor, the City Council and City Auditor, which comprise the three separate branches of Tulsa’s local government. City leaders have also developed key performance indicators and specific strategies to track their progress in achieving these goals and to eventually inform a more robust performance management system. While this effort is still in its early stages, the city of Tulsa has made great strides in using data to measure and improve results.


The city of Tulsa’s tax-revenue base is largely dependent on its 3.1 percent local sales tax, with two-thirds of the city’s General Fund budget generated by this revenue stream.[1] Because the level of local sales taxes collected can be volatile and is continuously diminishing as a result of Internet sales, the city has sought to improve government efficiency and performance to reduce costs while continuing to deliver high-quality services, operations, and activities.[2] Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, Jr. recently highlighted this budgetary challenge: “We will restore the core function of municipal government through a delivery system that maximizes the limited financial resources yet provides the highest quality of City services expected by the citizens.”

Focus on Efficiency

Consequently, Tulsa has been focused on improving government efficiency and has received support from the philanthropic community to do so. In 2010, KPMG LLC conducted a strategic review of programs and services provided by 20 city departments. The study, funded by the Tulsa Community Foundation, found that only 12 percent of city services were based on measurable and time-bound objectives, goals, and/or performance measures. It also showed that 5 percent of services demonstrated effectiveness relative to performance measure targets, while 94 percent of services did not measure performance at all.[1] The KPMG report also provided recommendations for creating cost-control measures and a management oversight function.[2]