Cleveland’s Consultant Craving

Arthur Hargate
3 min readMar 19, 2023
Original art by J.E Hargate

My name is Arthur Hargate and I live in Cleveland’s Ward 6. I am providing public comment regarding reports in the press that the Justin Bibb administration is promoting legislation in City Council that authorizes $1.5 million to be spent with an outside consultant for a 10-year operational strategic plan. I do not represent any organization and I am not being paid to provide this comment.

Voters in Cleveland (City) thought we elected Mayor Bibb to hire and surround himself with excellent people and tap existing City resources to get the City moving in the right direction fast. The City administration’s penchant to rely on expensive outside consultants is very disturbing. How many horribly expensive plans like this one proposed do we need that never get fully implemented? The City’s history with this type of planning is not very good.

The City should internalize this functionality to get continuous operational improvement over time. Mayor Bibb can lead the strategic planning himself (he is the City CEO, after all) with existing people, newly hired expertise and community input. There are many community members with exceptional expertise in this type of endeavor that could volunteer their time in oversight.

It is critical to implement much needed changes and reforms quickly and incrementally as they go. Waiting months for a minutely comprehensive, gold-plated consultant plan with myriad pretty pictures, graphs and endless slide-decks is unnecessary and a waste of limited City resources. Little or no control can be had with the recommendations the consultant will provide with no budget constraints and requiring more consulting. The consultant’s endgame is to addict the City to the consultant.

Forget the endless, obscenely overpriced study, analysis paralysis and pretty plan and do the obvious work that every employee of the City knows is needed right now. It’s not rocket-science, nowhere near as complex and complicated as it is being presented and it doesn’t take a consultant with little or no present knowledge of the City’s operations to tell the City what people on the front lines know needs to be done.

A consulting team to do this work will cost many hundreds if not thousands of dollars an hour. Projects like this are typically late in arrival, hugely over budget and can be monumentally off-target in recommendations.

It is in the consultant’s best interest to vigorously expand its scope and embed itself in the City’s operations as a permanent fixture to provide an ever-expanding spectrum of services. Once a consulting firm like this embeds itself like a tick in the inner workings of the City, its presence, influence and on-going cost will only grow exponentially and become permanent.

Existing City managers and staff will be engaged and ultimately distracted by the consultant, often in ill-fitting, patterned investigative exercises that provide little or no ultimate benefit. It is far more efficient to engage those people directly in the project’s design, inputs and outputs, making the people that will be responsible for implementation also the agents for the plan end-product.

It’s effective, efficient, builds ownership in outcomes and enhances internal teamwork and consensus to do this type of strategic operational planning with internal resources.

A consultant-lead, grandiose operational strategic planning process right now is a waste of taxpayer money and will be a gargantuan distraction at City Hall. Internalizing and making permanent strategic operational thinking and action for continuous improvement is the most effective way to get and keep Cleveland’s operational capacity strong.

And there are many more important priorities that can be addressed with $1.5 million.

Thank you.



Arthur Hargate

Arthur Hargate is retired after a 40-year management career in the environmental services business. He now writes, plays guitar and is a social activist.