City Benchmarking

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It is hard to have the courage — to change, to innovate, to improve — when you don’t have all the facts.

Around the world, cities are undergoing massive and fundamental change. Demand for city services is changing. Expectations are increasing. And costs are coming under pressure. Cities have no choice but to become more efficient and more effective in delivering services. The problem is that nobody really knows what ‘good’ looks like when it comes to service efficiency and effectiveness, nor do city managers have the data needed to make effective trade-offs. There are no consistent global benchmarking systems that compare efficiency and effectiveness across countries and city service areas. There is no ‘Big Book of Great Ideas’ for cities. This is not surprising. As this report illustrates, city benchmarking is a tremendously difficult and time-consuming exercise. In part, this is because no two cities measure the exact same things in the exact same way (in fact, in many cases, cities aren’t measuring key indices at all). But it’s also because each city faces a very different environmental, social, political and economic reality. And that has a direct impact on their specific costs and capabilities.

Benchmarking isn’t easy. Yet we persevered.

This report offers a summary of our findings. In total, 35 different cities participated, representing almost all geographic regions and sizes. Not all cities were able to collect data for all service areas. But those that could allowed KPMG professionals to start creating a much clearer and more consistent view of what ‘good’ might look like in city service delivery. More importantly, our exercise went beyond the data to find out some of the key innovations, service improvements and trends facing these cities. And, in this report, we highlight some of the most impressive and impactful examples in the hope of inspiring other cities to evolve their current approach to city services. This is not a ranking or competition. Rather, it is an effort to catalyze renewed debate about how city services are developed, delivered and measured. We hope it leads to better and more consistent measurement of city services. And we hope it raises new ideas and discussion at the city manager level.

On behalf of KPMG’s global network of member firms, we would like to thank those cities that participated in this exercise and report. We recognize and appreciate the effort that went into your responses and hope that this report offers you new ideas, innovations, and insights. In particular, we would like to thank the City of Barcelona, the first city to join us on this journey, for their early and continuous support of this project.

This is just the start of the journey to better understanding effective and efficient city service delivery.

We intend to repeat this exercise regularly to give cities a proper time-series basis for comparison. Where possible, we encourage other cities to try their own comparisons to see where they rank. We invite you to join us on this journey and encourage you to tell us what you would like to see in future city benchmarking studies. To discuss the issues raised in this report — or to participate in a future KPMG International city benchmarking exercise — please contact your local KPMG member firm or any of the contacts listed at the back of this publication.

Download the KPMG International report, Benchmarking City Services

Download the report


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