It’s not every year that a city wins the Mac Baldrige Award; in fact, Irving is only the second to have ever done it. Part of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Irving contains Las Colinas, one of the first master-planned developments in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Airport also falls within its 68 square miles. The city is over a hundred years old, but didn’t see much growth until the manufacturing, transportation, and finance industries moved in during the 1930s, opening the doors for huge organizations like Citigroup, Verizon, Nokia, Allstate, Microsoft, Neiman Marcus, ExxonMobil, and Kimberly-Clark. In 2011, Irving was awarded the Texas Award for Performance Excellence, qualifying it for the big B.
So, how did they do it? Mayor Beth Van Duyne reached out for some extra help. Freese and Nichols, Inc. is a multi-discipline consulting firm that offers services in engineering, architecture, environmental science, planning, construction services, and program management. It doesn’t hurt that they are 2010 Baldrige Award recipients, and based out of Fort Worth, Texas. Freese and Nichols worked with Irving through their initial processes, helped review Irving’s application, practice for site visits, and did mock interviews with innumerable staff members in an effort to help make everyone on the city payroll to become more comfortable with the Baldrige Criteria. In addition, they shared best practices, and considering that F&N received the National and Tarrant Area Business Ethics Award (local TX award) in 2007, I would say Irving made a good choice when selecting their mentor.
“We take best practices from the private sector, how businesses are run, and incorporate them into how we run a government municipality,” Van Duyne said. “It can be done.”
What kind of benefits does a city expect to see from the Baldrige Award? The City of Irving describes the Baldrige process as having saved them more than $40 million and 50,000 staff hours since initial implementation in 2006. They do this through a Lean Six Sigma methodology, and have aligned their strategic plan with the respective financials. Planning, reporting, training, and monitoring has been set in place. New processes have been designed with reduced variation, elimination of waste, increase workforce productivity, and saved or avoided costs in mind. Since 2008, Irving city government has decreased its energy consumption by 5 million kilowatt-hours, and by almost 3,000 cubic feet of natural gas! That’s over $11 million in savings in fuel costs alone, just from process redesign and strategic implementation.
It’s not just dollars and cents, either. The city implemented a program called “I Win,” a wellness program for city employees that was recently recognized by the American Heart Association. Based on annual physical fitness and medical test scores, employees can earn monthly pay incentives ranging from $50 to $150 for good health. Not only is the city saving medical costs, estimated at over $1.5 million, but it has reduced its actuarial-determined retiree health insurance cost by $25 million over a 25-year period. Those are some big savings!
It’s easy to see why three out of four residents would say that Irving is a great place to live. Oh, did I forget to mention they are one of only FIVE cities in the state of Texas and 89 in the nation with an AAA credit rating from S&P? Not too shabby, Irving.
For more about Irving, read this.
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