Gambit's recent article, "Broken Record-Keeping" (Cover story, Nov. 15) was off base and riddled with inaccuracies. This story was out of tone and out of context, given the sweeping reforms we have instituted, specifically those related to the contracting process and open government.
To put this issue in context, shortly after taking office I signed Executive Order MJL 10-05 to completely overhaul and reform professional services procurement. It removes the mayor from the contracting process and helps ensure that contracts are awarded based on "what you know, not who you know." Selection committee meetings are open to the public, with local press, government watchdog organizations and residents often in attendance. Contracts for important projects from the Lafitte Greenway to the Six Flags redevelopment have been and will be awarded through this process. It was a major reform in our efforts to make New Orleans a better place to do business.
Once contracts are executed, we post them to our website, www.nola.gov. And now, because of work we've done in recent months, the database of contracts and amendments signed since 2009 are posted in a searchable format.
While we post all contracts signed by me online, the crux of the article seemed to be that the city has not posted online all contracts signed by previous mayors, specifically those signed before 2009, and that these contracts are not available in a searchable database.
Unfortunately, we did not inherit a list of all active contracts or a document management system capable of producing one. As a point of fact — when we took office, the city did not even have a basic inventory of assets, including an accurate accounting of the number of cars or computers. We are changing all of that.
While we have a long way to go, we have made vast improvements across the board. Our long-term solution is moving finance, payroll and procurement systems into a coordinated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system.
We did not stop improving transparency and accountability at the contracting process. We opened up the budget process and have engaged citizens at community meetings using a process called Budgeting for Outcomes.
We are also measuring our results and holding ourselves accountable. City Hall is a much more open place for citizens to interact, from quarterly ResultsNOLA reports that document our successes and failures across departments to our many public Stat meetings, such as BlightStat, which open up often-messy government processes for vital services.
It is clear that we have a long way to go to be a model city government, but we are making significant progress as we deliver a better level of service for the residents of our great city.
Mayor of New Orleans