Heard Around Town

Unsatisfied with the mayor’s, NYC Council to launch its own agency report cards

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams is set to announce the initiative in her State of the City address on Wednesday afternoon.

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams Emil Cohen/NYC Council Media Unit

The City Council is taking out its red marker. 

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams is set to announce on Wednesday a new initiative to evaluate city agencies’ performance and release report cards laying out just how well those agencies are working for New Yorkers. 

If reports on city agencies’ performance sound familiar, that’s because the Mayor’s Office of Operations already produces the twice-yearly “Mayor’s Management Report.” The mayor’s reports, which are chartered-mandated to be released every January and September, include a couple thousand statistics on the work of 45 city agencies and offices. Performance indicators vary for each agency, including everything from admissions to city jails and the average wait to be approved for an affordable housing lottery unit, to the number of dogs licensed in New York City.

But the City Council says that those reports don’t drill down enough in some areas. “The MMR is a helpful tool, do not get me wrong. But it doesn’t tell the full story,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler, who chairs the council’s Committee on Governmental Operations. Restler offered as one example wanting more granular data on summonses for low-level violations issued by police, which saw a significant increase in the first four months of fiscal year 2024, according to the Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report. Restler also said that the council’s reports will go a step further, and include action plans and recommendations for how the city can improve in areas where it’s lagging.

This isn’t the first time the City Council has pushed for more data from city agencies. Mayor Eric Adams fought against a City Council bill that would require police officers to report additional information about lower-level investigative encounters. The mayor vetoed the “How Many Stops Act,” but the council voted to override his veto in January. 

The speaker’s office, which conceived of the new report card initiative, said that it does not require legislation to be implemented. The work will be led by a team of six people that forms the City Council’s compliance unit, which sits under the legislative division. The compliance unit was formed in 2022 and is meant to “review, monitor, and supervise City agencies, programs and policy implementation,” according to its mission statement. 

The exact format of the new report cards and the breadth of data they’ll cover is unclear. Though it appears on its face to be a significant undertaking, the speaker’s office said that the initiative will not carry an additional cost, and that there are no plans to hire additional staff. The evaluations are expected to take place on a rolling basis, but the speaker’s office did not offer any ideas as to which agencies it wants to start with.

The council has pitched the initiative as important to its ability to fulfill its role as a co-equal branch of government – something City Hall and the Council have struggled over in recent veto fights and a lawsuit. “The City Council is charter-mandated to provide oversight of the administration,” Restler said. “But the speaker sees our role as going further and demanding not just accountability, but improvement, so that our city agencies are performing at the standards that New Yorkers should expect.”

Mayor Adams launched a digital version of the Mayor’s Management Report in 2022 that updates more regularly, and according to City Hall, the mayor’s office has incorporated more than 60 new indicators in the Mayor’s Management Report based on recommendations from the council. “We look forward to digging into the speaker’s proposals and continuing to build on two years of collaboration with her and the City Council to deliver on our shared goals and make sure the city we all love works for working-class New Yorkers,” Mayor Adams said in an emailed statement following the speaker’s full State of the City address on Wednesday.