Awards for Excellence: City of Winnipeg, Manitoba

Capital Projects Dashboard

 

About City of Winnipeg, Manitoba

The City of Winnipeg is the capital city of Manitoba, with a thriving cultural scene and a population of 753,700 (2018). On March 9, 2018 the City of Winnipeg released two online tools, the Open Capital Dashboard ("The Dashboard") and Open Budget Portal ("Open Budget"), to help citizens access information on the City's open capital projects. On its release, Mayor Brian Bowman stated, "These new tools make the City of Winnipeg amongst the civic leaders in Canada by making it easier for residents to access information on budget and capital projects in an open, accountable, and user-friendly way." The Dashboard supports openness, transparency, and accountability related to open capital project management, and complements the Open Budget by reporting fundamental financial information. By displaying the information in a visually engaging and interactive way, users of The Dashboard and the Open Budget easily gain insight into the capital projects' financial budgets and actual costs of projects.

City of Winnipeg's Capital Dashboard project group.

Implementation of Best Practice

After some high profile audits and in support of the Mayor's commitment to openness and transparency, funding was accessed through the Innovation Committee to develop a dashboard to provide information on the current status of capital projects in a way that is easily understood by the public. The Dashboard Project successfully implemented three key deliverables as part of this commitment to improve governance and transparency in capital project management: 

  1. Open Budget - The application uses open data to support transparency of open capital projects' financial information, reports fundamental financial information such as adopted budget, amended budget, and actual costs categorized by department, category, and subcategory for the City's entire portfolio of open capital projects;

  2. The Dashboard - The first of its kind, it is a visually engaging, interactive tool that uses open data and other non-financial information to report on the performance of the City's open capital projects with budgets of $5 million or more as of the current reporting period. Assessing the status of a capital project is a complex process that is streamlined by the dashboard, interpreting both non-financial and financial data and analyzing this information to determine the project's performance for users. The Dashboard's schedule/cost variance matrix was custom developed by the City of Winnipeg to do this analysis, rating all projects' performance based on costs and schedule criteria and displaying the information in an engaging way that is easily understood. The City partnered with Socrata to build their out-of-the-box Project Explorer application used by Seattle and incorporate the customized nine-tile schedule/cost matrix that both reported project performance and rated the overall performance of all projects based on schedule and cost metrics;

  3. Business Processes and Reporting Requirements - Using the custom designed matrix requires both schedule and cost information to rate all capital projects. Not all this information was being collected or reported. Significant effort was required to develop a foundational framework for capital project performance measuring and ranking to re-engineer and enhance existing business processes and systems to meet the new business requirements. Metrics needed to be defined and quantified, business processes and systems developed to collect the information, and reporting parameters set. A Working Committee was established that was comprised of representatives from all disciplines (Finance, Asset Management, Project Management, and Information Technology) and from Departments. The framework took almost two years to complete and consisted of extensive research, and fact finding and discovery sessions. 

City of Winnipeg's Capital Dashboard home page.

City of Winnipeg's Open Budget home page.

Benefits

The City of Winnipeg has improved transparency and accountability of capital project management through the public publishing of information on the Capital Dashboard. Using the nine-tile matrix the City has established easily understandable project performance information. Elected officials spoke highly of the tool upon its release, and the Capital Dashboard has been hailed as great stride forward in improving the openness and transparency of the City of Winnipeg's government. 

Tools and Resources

GFOA Best Practice: Communicating Capital Improvement Strategies

GFOA recommends that organizations develop a communications plan for public participation that focuses on explaining capital needs, options, and strategies, and facilitating feedback before a major capital program gets underway. Capital programs gain from the support of the community, which ensures that these projects will deliver the expected and desired outcomes, and also guarantees there is adequate public support for the investment.

More