Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance Celebrates Its Transformation

Pittsburgh Chief Innovation and Performance Officer Debra Lam addresses her department on its one-year anniversary.

Pittsburgh Chief Innovation and Performance Officer Debra Lam addresses her department on its one-year anniversary. City of Pittsburgh / YouTube

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Mayor Bill Peduto: “One year in, you’ve knocked it out of the park, which means I expect so much more in year two.”

The city of Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance celebrated its first birthday on Friday with Debra Lam, the city’s chief innovation and performance officer delivering a State of the Department address to her team.

Mayor Bill Peduto, whose municipal transformation vision for Pennsylvania’s second-largest city helped lead to the department’s creation, told Lam's team: “One year in, you’ve knocked it out of the park, which means I expect so much more in year two.”

The department, which was confirmed by the Pittsburgh City Council one year ago, is now institutionalized within the city government instead of just being an initiative within the mayor’s office that could have been eliminated by any future mayor.

It’s helped bring changes to the city’s 311 system and the creation of a new snow-plow tracking system.

Lam told her department that the transformation of Pittsburgh City Information Services into the Department of Innovation and Performance “wasn’t just us cutting and pasting and copy and replacing CIS into I & P. It depended on all of you to accept this change and it depended on all of you to really move forward on a new department.”

For the new department, the mission was broadened from one with largely an internal mission to one that keeps public services at the forefront.

According to Lam's address:

And that meant taking internal day-to-day fire-fighting operations that we’ve historically been doing—in terms of just replacing computing, changing passwords, internal operations, of back up support to the departments—into really driving the vision and having that external engagement to the public, adding additional services [and] broadening our portfolio. But keep in the mind that at the end of the day, for the most part, we have the same number of people in our team with the same services.

Watch Lam's State of the Department address: