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Published: Thursday, 4/18/2002

A game of statistics

The Ford administration has advanced a commendable idea: collecting data on a significant number of city functions, from staff overtime to potholes filled, to tons of cans recycled.

The figures will not only give Toledoans a broader glimpse of their tax dollars at work, but also will give the administration and its departmental directors a hands-on, clear-cut, view of what they are doing and where they can improve.

Data of this sort provide the kind of successful organizational tool that helps business thrive. It is heartening to see the public sector adopting it.

The new proposal will result in the posting of figures on the web under a program called Toledo Stat, patterned no doubt on Baltimore's CitiStat, which is available online at www.baltimorecity.gov.

The city already collects an abundance of data from its departments, both monthly and quarterly. The new arrangement will cover periods of two weeks, and will wind up on the city's computer server in a uniform format.

The mayor has demanded that the city office of affirmative action keep abreast of city contracts related not only to affirmative action but to the living wage law. As we have noted, why even have living wage, which we oppose, if the city doesn't even know how it's being implemented?

The advancement of facts related to performance have already affected administration action, with the proposed withholding of funds from the Warehouse District Association, which lost its federal block grant funding for failure to achieve goals to which it has been committed.

It has been said that those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat the errors of the past. But unless the facts are published, it is sometimes difficult to see what the lessons are.

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