Nordenberg-led Panel Reports on Local Government Efficiency

Issue Date: 
April 7, 2008

(From left: Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.)

The Citizens Advisory Committee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of City-County Government—created by Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and City of Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in October 2006—released its report, making three recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local government and to promote regional growth in a highly competitive and fast-moving global economy.

The report, released April 3 at an on-campus news conference, is titled “Government for Growth: Forging a Bright Future—Built on Unity, Efficiency, Equity, and Equality—for the People of Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh.”

In it, the Citizens Advisory Committee, chaired by University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, calls for intensified efforts by city and county leadership to pursue cooperative ventures, the formalization of the current commitment to cooperate through a “cooperation compact,” and an early opportunity for city and county residents to vote on the desirability of consolidating the two governments.

Successful cooperative initiatives already undertaken by Mayor Ravenstahl and County Chief Executive Onorato, their appointment of the advisory committee on cooperation, and the rich body of other recent work—such as the reports of the ComPAC 21 and the Competitive Pittsburgh committees—make this an opportune time to forge further progress in city-county efficiency and effectiveness, Nordenberg said in his opening message of the report.

Particularly given the fiscal challenges faced by both the city and the county, the report embraced the ComPAC21 goal of “zero tolerance for service duplication.” The region’s troubling economic trajectory—characterized by substantial population losses, low job growth, and average wages that significantly trail those paid in benchmarked communities—also led the committee to stress the benefits of unified leadership and a common vision for the future.

But, the report cautions, in order to promote equity and equality in the implementation of the recommendations, deliberate consideration must be given to the continuing needs of the urban center, the assurance of adequate minority representation, the equitable treatment of current city and county employees, and the continuing segregation of legacy debt.

The 13 members of the Citizens Advisory Committee met on a twice-monthly basis, solicited presentations from more than 40 individuals with relevant expertise, went on a fact-finding mission to the consolidated “Metro Louisville” region, and commissioned a RAND study on economic development. While the committee was created by the county chief executive and the mayor, it deliberated and reached conclusions independent of them. All expenses of the committee’s work were paid by local foundations.

The report notes that the advisory committee’s recommendations are “offered pragmatically—as achievable steps that can facilitate higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness in local government, while promoting regional unity in an increasingly competitive world….”

The entire report may be read at