The drive for data

Everyone wants it. Feedback, reports, annual statements and reconciliations – all of these activities are about the collection of data. It begs the question, what is to be done with all that information?

The gathering of information should focus on improving efficiency and quality of service. Regrettably, that isn’t always the case.

At Centre Wellington’s mid-December council meeting, Mayor Kelly Linton shared News of a recent review at the county to identify the number of reports undertaken annually to meet provincial requests.

Dozens of reports are prepared each year. After identifying the volume of work as significant, the administration and finance committee asked staff to determine the costs associated with meeting this reporting burden. It won’t be cheap, but it may provide an illustration for the province on costs associated with its recording requirements.

In the private sector such submissions are often viewed as “red tape” – annoying obstacles and time-wasting exercises that distract from the business’ core function, which is generating revenue and paying bills.  

It only stands to reason that public sector operations would have similar challenges and concerns. No one, regardless of job or function, likes wasting time, particularly if an exercise appears pointless.

From our experience it seems that as entities get larger they lose sight of the attributes that initially made them successful: chiefly, maximizing time and effort into pursuits that generate value. Although the public sector typically shoulders the blame for such waste, large corporations get caught up in the same activities.

Hopefully the county’s efforts on this front provide a case study for the province to consider streamlining the activities and requirements it places on municipal government and industry.

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