Benchmarking Overview

The City and County of San Francisco Charter requires the City Services Auditor (CSA) to monitor the level and effectiveness of City services. Specifically, that CSA shall review performance and cost benchmarks, and conduct comparisons of the cost and performance of San Francisco City and County government with other cities, counties, and public agencies performing similar functions. Benchmarking analysis complements the public reporting of performance results, such as on the San Francisco Performance Scorecards website.

This new Benchmarking section on the Performance Scorecards website provide information about how San Francisco compares to peer jurisdictions across a variety of performance metrics, using both publicly available and survey data. While the Controller’s Office has made efforts to ensure that performance data and analysis is as consistent as possible across peers, benchmark comparisons are not always apples-to-apples. However, benchmarking results provide useful context for the public and policymakers to assess how San Francisco compares to similar peer jurisdictions and to identify areas for further research and awareness.  The Controller’s Office does not make judgements on the quality or efficiency of services, and higher or lower spending on certain services should not be used to draw conclusions in these areas.

Benchmarking Topics

The Controller’s Office collected and analyzed data for fiscal year-end 2016, except as noted. Sections will be published regularly through the end of May 2018 and will be updated on an ongoing basis.

  • Transportation
  • Public Safety
  • Livability
  • Demographics
  • Safety Net
  • Public Health
  • Homelessness
  • Finance

Peer Jurisdictions

Benchmarking compares San Francisco to jurisdictions from California and the United States, at the city- or county-level, depending on the metric. The Controller's Office selected peers using a “likeness score” methodology that accounted for population and population density. Peers include Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA, Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; Long Beach, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Minneapolis, MN; Oakland, CA; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; San Diego, CA; San Jose, CA; Seattle, WA; and Washington, DC.