All Aboard the Gravy Train: Minimal Gravy in Government Management
Torontoist has been acquired by Daily Hive Toronto - Your City. Now. Click here to learn more.




All Aboard the Gravy Train: Minimal Gravy in Government Management

Photo of the 311 call centre by Michael Chrisman/Torontoist.

Due to budgetary pressures, the City commissioned KPMG to evaluate municipal programs and services and compile a list of which could be cut, or cut back. The results of those findings are being released in a series of reports this month.

Report for: Government Management [PDF]
Not Gravy: 94–98 per cent of services in this area are described as “mandatory” or “essential” (depending on which cluster of City services is in question). The vast majority of services in this area are “reported as delivering at or below standard.” The potential for savings comes in primarily with administrative reorganization and changes to the 311 service, detailed below.
Savings opportunities:

  • Outsourcing “some aspects of 311 service delivery, particular access to web-based services,” and merging the 311 service with 211. Overall the report is quite positive about the role and importance of the 311 service, noting that “311 is rapidly becoming the standard approach for municipalities to give a single-point-of-access to non- emergency program and service inquiries for all residents, businesses and visitors.” Were some 311 services outsourced, the report continues, this “may increase difficulty in ensuring responsiveness and flexibility to respond to changes and unusual circumstances. If contractor is housed outside Toronto, may be more difficult to train staff adequately.”
  • Eliminating a program called 311 Development, which manages the ongoing implementation of that service. This, says the report, is “required if model continues to evolve, but could be eliminated if model stabilized.”
  • Establishing online payment systems. Utility bill and property taxes could potentially be paid online, reducing the labour costs associated with processing those payments.
  • Pooling financial management, accounting, facilities management, and program support services (which are necessary for the City’s internal operations) across divisions may yield some savings. These opportunities are generally described as “low,” meaning that the potential savings are no more than 5 per cent of current program costs.