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Rawlings-Blake hires new CitiStat director

Sameer Sidh is the new director of Baltimore's CitiStat agency.
Sameer Sidh is the new director of Baltimore's CitiStat agency. (Baltimore Sun (Handout))

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has selected a former state official to lead Baltimore's struggling CitiStat agency.

Sameer Sidh, a former acting director of Gov. Martin O'Malley's StateStat program, will begin work Oct. 26.

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Sidh said he wants to restore a "culture of accountability" in the agency. He will be paid $120,000 a year.

"I'd like to increase the frequency of meetings," Sidh said. "I'd like to make the meetings more businesslike."

Most recently, Sidh has worked in the city's Transportation Department.

In August, Rawlings-Blake removed embattled CitiStat Director Mark H. Grimes, saying she was dissatisfied with the agency's performance.

Grimes' departure came several months after an investigation by The Baltimore Sun found that he had canceled one-third of the meetings that were the backbone of CitiStat's analytical process. The agency also failed to publish any department reports. The Sun also found that Grimes, who was paid $124,000 a year, was involved in a private law practice that holds a state legal contract requiring him to work 22 hours per week.

Rawlings-Blake announced Wednesday that she also is creating an initiative called OutcomeStat. While CitiStat tracks day-to-day operations of city agencies, OutcomeStat will work with the budget office to track progress on the city's long-term goals, such as school readiness and recycling rates.

"Yes, I want to promote efficiency every single day, but I want it to be bigger than that," Rawlings-Blake said. "If we do these things, we will improve the quality of life for Baltimore residents."

CitiStat was created under Mayor Martin O'Malley, like Rawlings-Blake a Democrat. Other cities have adopted the process, and O'Malley, now campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president, points to the agency's creation as a signature accomplishment.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has done away with O'Malley's StateStat program, changing it into a new unit aimed at improving performance and customer service in state government.

Hogan issued an executive order creating the Governor's Office of Performance Improvement, calling it an "important step" in his administration's effort to reduce waste and bureaucracy. His spokesman said it would take over the functions of StateStat.

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