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Zero-Based Review Program FAQ

​1. What is a Zero-Based Review?

The Zero-Based Review Program is an initiative approved by Calgary City Council to raise the care and attention The City pays to restraining expenditures and continually seeking improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of municipal programs and services. A Zero-Based Review is an evaluation process through which services are systematically reviewed to determine the most appropriate way to provide them and at what level.

The review examines services and budgets in light of legislative requirements, organizational goals, existing and emerging internal client and/or citizen needs and priorities, benchmarking and best practices information. Using this information, a ZBR provides options and recommendations to identify:

  • Changes to service level or delivery that would reduce costs or mitigate future cost increases (efficiency improvements); and
  • Whether any changes to service level or delivery would help to achieve greater results within currently available resources (effectiveness improvements). 

2. Who is involved in a Zero-Based Review?

In terms of the internal coordination of the ZBR, each project requires involvement and collaboration among many different groups. The ZBR program is housed within and managed by the Corporate Initiatives (CI) division of the Chief Financial Officer’s Department. The business unit under review is meaningfully involved from project initiation through to implementation. Both CI and the business unit apply the ZBR methodology and participate in data collection and analysis. For strategic decision-making during the project, there is an interdepartmental Steering Committee. The in-depth analysis component of the review is conducted by an external consultant with subject matter expertise. Lastly, Council is involved at the end of each project in order to assess and approve/reject the final recommendations.

3. What are the expected outcomes of a Zero-Based Review?

The end result of the ZBR is an overall assessment of services and a series of detailed and implementable recommendations for efficiency and effectiveness improvements. The objectives of the ZBR are to focus on opportunities that:

  1. identify ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of City services, by examining what we do (service scope and service level) and how we do it (service delivery method and funding);
  2. enhance integration across the organization; and
  3. encourage evolution to a culture of continuous improvement and innovation.